Skip to main content

Full text of "History of the Dunmow flitch of bacon custom"

See other formats


lj af 


i w, 





iimmofo Jflitrfj of acott Custom, 






Historical Notices of Ceremonies similar to that of Dunmow. 






This little History of a good 

Which he revived, is dedicated by 


W. A. 


P K E F A C E . 

WE have written this little book because we are greatly interested 
in the good old Custom of Dunmow. The usage being curious, 
and so well calculated to promote domestic felicity, we deem it 
desirable to produce in a popular form a work on the subject. 
Grose says " Amongst the jocular tenures of England, none have 
been more talked about than the Bacon of Dunmow," yet, strange 
to relate, to the present time no history in a separate form has 
appeared, hence our wish to furnish one. We agree with the poet 
when he sings : 

It were well if " our Custom " BO widely was spread, 
Tht evety fond couple resolv'd to be wed ; 
Would deteimine to p>ease, to charm, and bewitch, 
That in any year they might each claim the Flitch. 

Shoull this be the case a glad world would be ours, 
The thorns and the biiars would bloom into flowers; 
And all might rejoice, the poor and the rich, 
If all would deserve and lay claim to the Flitch. 

We have done our best to render our work attractive not only to 
the antiquary, but to the general reader. In our labour of love 
we have received much kind assistance, and amongst those we 
must thank for favours in furnishing poetical contributions and 
historical information, W. Harrison Ainsworth, Esq., William 
Berry, Esq., Le Chevalier de Chatelain, 8. F. Longstaffe, Esq., 
F.R.H.S., F. Ross, Esq., F.R.H.S., our very dear friends Mr. and 
Mrs. G. M. Tweddell, of Stokesley. Mr. John William Savill, of 
Dunmow, at considerable trouble, has enriched us with valuable 
notes that have been of the greatest service in compiling this 
work. It is only right to state the promoters of the Dunmow 
Custom have in Mr. Savill a most energetic secretary and manager. 

He is a gentleman of literary ability and has a taste for archaeology. 
Several newspapers of the county have in him a good representa- 
tive. He is a contributor to a number of our magazines, where 
his articles are always instructive and interesting, and receive a 
good share of attention, being free from political and religious 
bias, though at times keen and sarcastic. In 1863 he produced 
his " History of Dunmow," which contains much valuable 
information conveyed in a clear and pleasing manner. It was 
favourably noticed by the critical press, and merited the recep- 
tion it obtained from the general public. Topographers would do 
well to take as a model the arrangement of this work. The large 
edition was rapidly exhausted and the work is now unattainable. 
" The Dunmow Almanac " was year by year brought out by 
Mr. Savill with great taste, for a period of seven years. He also 
published " How to make Home Happy " a work containing 
golden rules which, if followed, would result in rendering the 
family circle a nearer type to the heavenly one than it often is. 
" The Family Doctor," an elaborate book of Hygeine, 
followed, and some thousands are in circulation. Copies of Mr. 
Savill's productions are in the British Musuern, and writing of 
them the late J. Winter Jones, Esq., the librarian to the Museum, 
said, " They have a peculiar interest, and I am anxious to preserve 
them for the use of the National Library." Mr. Savill has also 
written articles for several Encyclopaedias and Guide Books, notably 
the "Globe Encyclopaedia," and the "Great Eastern Railway 
Panoramic Guide." 

He is also a zealous member of the Ancient Order of 
Foresters and Secretary of the local Court, which has given sub- 
stantial proof of its appreciation of his labours by a handsome 

Had it not been for the energetic exertions and persistent 
labours of Mr. J. W. Savill, against much opposition, the 
Custom of Dunmow would have been a thing of the past. He 
merits the esteem of all who delight in popular antiquities for 
maintaining one of the most historically interesting of the Customs 
of Merrie England. We hope he will live long and his days be 
passed pleasantly, and have leisure to attend to the Dunmow 
Custom, which he contends is a quaint and picturesque one, link- 
ing us with the misty ages of the past. 

William Winters, Esq., F.R.H.S., who has contributed so 
much to the literature of Essex, has kindly favoured us with 
communications. It will also be observed we have extracted 
valuable information from Coller's " People's History of Essex," 
Wright's " History of Essex," and numerous other works. From 
the two well-conducted county papers, the Chelmsford Chronicle, 
and the Essex Weekly Neivs, we obtained important matter^ 
We have to thank Eobert Chambers, Esq., of the firm of 
Messrs. W. & R. Chambers, for presenting us with illustrations, 
and William Tegg, Esq., F.R.H.S., for similar act of kindness. 

We must not omit to state "The Dunmow Flitch of Bacon " 
formed the subject of one of our contributions to " The Old 
Stories Re-told," in. the Newcastle Weekly Chronicle, and to the 
editor, W. E. Adams, Esq., we are under considerable obligations 
for allowing us to reproduce our paper, with additions, in book 

To our numerous subscribers we tender our grateful thanks, 
and hope our efforts to please may not have failed. 


10, Colonial-si reel, Hull, July Zrd, 1877. 




IN the days of yore was established at the Priory of Dunmow, Essex, the 
custom of presenting a flitch of Bacon to any married couple who could 
swear that neither of them in .1 twelvemonth and a day from their 
marriage had ever repented of his or her union. As to the time this 
custom originated we must go as far back as the middle ages, and to the 
period when men were making crusades and the English Commons had 
not a voice in the State. At that time religious houses abounded in this 
country. The one connected with our notice (that of the Priory of 
Dunmow) was founded in 1104 by the Lady Juga, sister of Ralph 
Baynard, who held the manor at the time of the Domesday Survey. 
The monastic buildings are now entirely razed to the ground. A little 
of the Priory Church remains, which formed the east end of the choir, 
and the present parish church of Little Dunmow. Here may be 
seen several monuments of great interest and in a good state of preser- 
vation : among others is that of Lady Juga, the foundress, and also a 
sculptured figure in alabaster of the "fair Matilda,'' daughter of the 
second Walter Fitzwalter, renowned in legendary story as the wife of 
Robin Hood, and the object of the illicit passion of King John, who, 
it is stated, caused her to be poisoned for rejecting his addresses. 

The learned antiquary, Sir William Dugdale (who was born in 1605 
and died in 108G), in his "Monasticon," tells the story of the "fair 
Matilda/' and, in allusion to the flitch of bacon, states : u Robert 
Fitzwalter, who lived long beloved by King Henry, the son of King 
John (as also of all the realm), betook himself in his latter days to prayer 
and deeds of charity, and great and bountiful alms to the poor, kept great 
hospitality, and re-edified the decayed Priory of Dunmow, which Juga, 


a most devout and religious woman, had builded ; in which Priory arose 
a custom, began and instituted either by him or some of his ancestors, 
which is verified by the common saying or proverb, ' That he which 
repents him not of his marriage, either sleeping or waking, in a year and 
a day, may lawfully go to Dunmow and fetch a gammon of bacon.' It 
is certain that such a custom there was, and that the bacon was delivered 
with such solemnity and triumph as they of the Priory and town could 
make continuing till the dissolution of that house. The party or pilgrim 
took the Oath before the Prior of the Convent, and the Oath was admin- 
istered with long process and much solemn singing and chanting." 

" The Vision of Piers Plowman," a religious allegorical satire, attri- 
buted to Robert Langlande, and written about 1362, contains a reference 
to the Dunmow flitch. In the following lines (which are slightly 
modernised to render them intelligible) the satirist adverts to the hasty 
and ill-assorted marriages that followed the great pestilence, the "black 

" Many a couple since the Pestilence 
Have plighted them together; 
The fruit that they bring forth 
Is foul words, 

In jealousy without happiness. 
And quarrelling in bed ; 
They have no children hut strife. 
And slapping between them : 
And though they go to Dunmow 
(Unless the Devil help !) 
To follow after the Flitch, 
They never obtain it ; 
And unless they both are perjured, 
They Irw tho Bacon.'' 

In the " Prologue of the Wife of Bath's Tale," by Chaucer, the merry 
wife relates how she treated her husbands, and shows they had little 
chance of obtaining the prize of matrimonial felicity. She observes : 

"The bacoun was nought fct for [t]hem, I trowo. 
That som men feeche in Essex at Dunmowe." 

About the year 144o appeared a theological poem, being a sort of para- 
phrase in verse of the Ten Commandments, and of which some extracts 
appear in " Reliquiae Antiquse." The author, commenting on the Seventh 
Commandment, bewails the corruption of the period that he could 

find no man now that will inquire 

The perfect ways unto Dunmow, 

For they repent them within a year. 

And roarry within a week. I trow." 


Allusions to the custom have been found by Mr. Thomas Wright, M.A., 
F.S.A., in MSS. of the latter part of the sixteenth century at Oxford and 
Cambridge. Writing in 1659, Howell says : 

Oo not fetch your wife from Diiumow 
For so you may brinx home two sides of a sow." 

Henry Bates, the son of a clergyman near Chelmsford, was the author of 
" The Flitch of Bacon," a ballad opera, acted at the Bayniarket Theatre, 
1778, and printed in 1771'. We make a few selections from the piece : 

AIK xm 

Ye good luen jind wive?, 
Who have lov'il all your lives. 

And whose vows have ai no time been shukcD, 
Xow conic and draw near. 
With your consciences' clear. 

And demand a large Hitch of Bacon. 

CHOiius Ye good men and wives, ice. 

Since a year and a day 
Have in love roll'd away. 

And tin oath of that Jove ha.^ been taken. 
On the sharp pointed stones. 
With your bare marrow bones. 

You have won our fam'd Priory Bacon. 

CHOHVS Yc good men and wives, &c." 

MIE "Tho 1 fortune cloud hope's friendly ray 

That beams our guardian light, 
Our constancy shall cheer the day, 

Our love the longest night. 
HE By thec beloved ! 
SHE While blessed with thec 

BOTH Stern fate may frown in vain, 
Content and sweet simplicity 
Will take us in their train." 

"Ladies would you taste Love's Bacou 

But one way you'll ever find : 
Let the solemn vow you've taken 
With the body tie the mind. 

' Murk but thi.s and we'll ensure ye 

To be ever blest and wise ; 
'Tis the charm that will secure ye 
Dunmow's matrimonial prize. 

And yc men, when you are joking, 
Scorn to trap over sex by art ; 
Nought to woman's so provoking 
As a hand without a heart." 



" Odds bobs she's wondrous pretty ! 
Her locks are almost jetty ! 
She's a finer wench than Betty. 
And see her eyes are blue. 

' Her snow-white bosom's heaving ! 
3Iy appetite is craving ! 
She hits my taste to a shaving ! 

Sweet damsel, how do you do ':" 

Having lingered with the poets of the olden time, let us turn to 
prose. According to Morant, the historian of Essex, " the prior and 
canons were obliged to deliver the bacon to them that took the oath, by 
virtue (as many believe) of a founder or benefactors' deed or will, by 
which they held lands, rather than by their own singular frolic and 
wantonness, or more probably it was imposed by the Crown, either in 
Saxon or Norman times, and was a burthen upon the estate.'' It is 
stated that after the Pilgrims, as the claimants were termed, had taken 
the oath, they were taken through the town in a chair, on men's shoulders, 
with all the friars, brethren, and townsfolk, young and old, male and 
female, after them, with shouts and acclamations, and the bacon was 
borne before them on poles. 

From the Chartulary of the Priory, which is deposited in the British 
Museum, it appears that only three couple obtained the bacon previous to 
the suppression of the religious houses. These were respectively on the 
27th April, 1445, in the year 1468, and on the 8th of September, 1510. 
The following are taken from the original entries now in the British 
Museum : 

"MEMORANDUM. That one- Richard Baubourgc, uear the city of Norwich, 
in the county of Norfolk, yeoman, came and required the bacon of Diinmow on the 27tli 
day of April, in the 23rd year of the reign of King Heijiy VI.. and according to the fonn 
of the charter, was sworn before John Cannon. Prior of this place and the convent, and 
many other neighbours, and there was delivered to him. the said Richard, one flitch of 

''MEMORANDUM. That one Stephen Samuel, ui Lit lie Er.siou. in the county of 1 
husbandman, came to the Priory of Dunmow, n our Lady day in Lent, in the seventh 
year of King Edward IV., and required a gammon of bacon, and was sworn be-fore Roger 
Bulcett. then prior, and the convent of this place, as also before a multitude of other neigh- 
bours, and there was delivered to him a gammon of bacon." 

'MEMORAKDUM. That in the year of <>ur Tin i::;.s J.o l-'ulli r.of Cgs.'c.~lmll. 
in the county of Essex, came to the Priory of IHmmow, and on the Mh September, being 
Sunday, in the second year of Kin? Henry VIII.. he was, according to the form of the 
Charter, sworn before John Tils, the Prior of the house and convent, as also before a 
multitude of neighbours, and there was delivered to him. the said Thomas, a gammon of 

Iii neither of the foregoing record?, says D. W. Coller, iu ' The 
People's Bistory of Essex,' 1 will be observed any mention of the lady. 
She does not seem to have been sworn. From all that appears to the 
contrary, she was left at liberty to work her whims and indulge her tem- 
per ; and the bacon was a reward for the patience of enduring husbands. 
It appears from the language of one historian and he has not been gain- 
said that the wife was not present. After describing the administration 
of the oath, he says "Then the pilgrim was taken on men's shoulders, 
and carried first about the Priory Churchyard and after that through the 
town with all the friars, brethren and townsfolk, with shouts and accla- 
mations, with his bacon borne before him, and sent home in the same 
manner.'' In modern times, however, the wife has been subjected to the 
ordeal, to increase the difficulty of obtaining the prize, and thus to save 
the bacon of the Lord of the Manor. 

Although we have only particulars of three presentations prior to 
the suppression of religious houses, we are disposed to believe more 
claims were entertained and the register of them is lost. The frequent 
allusions to the subject by our old poets support our supposition. Let us 
hope the claimants were numerous and successful, and that many happy 
lives were made happier by the rewards. 

The Priory of Dunmow was, of course, amongst the religious 
establishments suppressed by Henry the Eighth. Although the old 
religion of the place was gone, the bacon was saved. We have to state 
to the honour of the secular proprietors, they either held it as a solemn 
engagement which they inherited with the land, or they appreciated the 
old Custom and desired to maintain it. Particulars of the next presenta- 
tion we gather from Moraut, who obtained them from the rolls of the 

court : 

At a Conn IJiiroii of Sir Thomas Mu\. Km.. holden the 7ttt of Jiute, 1701, before 

Thomas Wheeler, irem., ,-ieward, the homage bein:r live fair ladies, spin-tors : namely. 
Elizabeth lieaiiniout. Henrietta fieatimont.Anfial'ella Beaumont. Jane Beauniont.hnd Mary 
Wheeler. They found that John IteyroUK * Ilailield I' gent. [Essex], and Anil 
his wife : and William Parsley, of Much Kn>i<>u [E.-#o.\]. butcher, and Jane, his wife, bv 
inoaiiB of their quiet and peaceable, tender and loving cohithilution JIT the space of three 
\ear- last ]i; t st. and upwards, were fit and qualified persons t-i be admitted by the court 
to receive the ancient and accustomed o;uh. whereby to entitle themselves to have the 
Bacon of Dunmow delivered unto them according to Custom of the. Manor. Accordingly, 
having taken the oath, kneeling on the two great stones near the church door, the Bacon 
was delivered to each couple. 

Mr. John Keynolds was the Steward to Sir Charles Harrington. 


The next claim was granted iu the year of grace 1751, and the 
official account is as follows : 

The Manor \ The Special Court Baron of Mary Hallett, Widow, Lady of the said 

of / Manor, there held for the said Manor, on Thursday, the twentieth day 

Dunmow > of June, in the live and twentieth year of the reign of our Soverign 

late the Priory I Lord George the Second, by the grace of God, of Great Britain. France, 

in Essex. " ) and Ireland, King, Defender of the Faith, and in the year of our Lord, 

One Thousand Seven Hundred and Fifty One, before George Corny ns, Esquire. Steward of 

i lie said Manor. 


William Towusend, Gent. ~\ /'Daniel Heckford, Geni. 

Marv Cater, Spinster. / _ \ Catherine Brett, Spinster. 

John Strutt, the yor., Gent. ( 5 /Robert Mapletoft. Gent. 
.Martha Wickford, Spinster. ' ^ 'Eliza Haslefoot. Spinster. 

James Raymond, the yor., Gent. V & /Itichard Birch, Gent. 
Elizabeth Smith, Spinster. ) (.Sarah Mapletoft, Spinster. 

He it remembered, that at thi* Court, it is found and presented by the homage af.ort.-aid, 
that Thomas Shakeshaft. of W"eathertield, in the County of Essex, weaver, and Ann, hi- 
wife, have been married for the space of seven years last j;a?t and upwards. Anil it i- 
likewise found, presented, and adjudged by the homage aforesaid, that tlie said Thomas 
Shakeshaft. and Ann. his wife, by mean- of their quiet, peaceable, tender, and loving 
cohabitation, for the space of time aforesaid, as appears to the said homage, are lir and 
qualified persons to be admitted by the Court to receive the ancient and accustomed Oath. 
whereby to entitle themselves t< nave the Bacon of Duninow delivered unto them accord- 
ing to the custom of this manor. Whereupon at thi- Court, in full and open Court, came 
the said Thomas Shakeshaft and Ann. his wife, in their own proper persons, and humbly 
prayed they might be admitted to take the Oath aforesaid. Whereupon the said Steward. 
with the Jury, Suitors, and other Officers of the Court, proceeded with the usual solemnity 
to the ancient and accustomed place for the administration of the Oath, and receiving the 
bacon aforesaid (that is to say), to the two Great Stones lying near the Church door, 
within the said manor, where the said Thomas Shakeshaft. and Ann, his wife, kneeling 
down on the said two Stones, the said Steward did administer unto them the accustomed 
oath, in the words or to the effect following, (that is to say) : 
You shall swear by custom of confession. 
That you ne'er made nuptial transgression : 
:\or -ince you were married man and wife. 
By household brawls or contentious stritv. 
Or otherwise at bed or at board. 
Offended each other in deed or word ; 
Or in a twelvemonth and a day, 
Repented not in thought any way ; 
Or since the parish clerk said ' Ainen.' 1 
Wished yourselves unmarried again. 
But continued true, and in desira, 
As when you joined hands in holy quire, 

And immediately thereupon the said Thomas Shakeshaft, and Ann. hi.- wife, claiming the 
said bacon, the Court pronounced the sentence for the same in these words, or to the 
effect, following to wit : 

Since to these condition.- without any iVar. 
Of your own accord you do freely swear ; 
A whole gammon of bacon you shall receive, 
And bear it away with love and good leave : 
For this is. the custom of Duninow well known, 
T'ho' the pleasure be ours, the bacon's your own. 

And accordingly a gammon of bacon was delivered to the said Thomas Shake.-hait, and 
Ann, his wife, with the usual solemnity. 

An account of the presentation will be found in the Gentleman's 
Magazine and the old London Magazine for the year 1751, from which it 


appears that the successful candidates realised a large sum of money by 
selling slices of the bacon to those who witnessed the ceremony. It is 
estimated that some five thousand persons were present. David Ogborne, 
a local artist of the period, sketched the scene, and painted it. The 
picture is in the possession of Lieut.-Colonel William James Lucas, of 
Witham. The production is worthy of Hogarth. We are enabled to 
include an engraving of it from Chambers's " Book of Days." William 
Hone, in his " E very-Day Book/' reproduces a print of great rarity, "sold 
by John Bowles, Map & Printseller, in Cornhill," entitled " The Manner 
of Claiming the Gammon of Bacon, &c., by Thos. Shakeshaft and Ann, 
his wife." William Tegg, Esq., F.R.B.S., a gentleman who has de- 
voted considerable attention to the Duninow custom, in his interesting 
volume, the " Knot Tied," kindly places at our disposal the illustration 
from Hone's book. 

The antique chair in which the successful claimants were formerly 
carried is still preserved in the chancel of Little Dunmow church. Its 
dimensions are such as to bring the loving pair who may occupy it, in a 
rather close juxtaposition, It is undoubtedly of great antiquity, probably 
the official chair of the Prior, or that of the Lord of the Manor, in 
which he held his usual courts and received the suit and service of his 
tenants. It in no way differs from the chief chairs of ancient halls. We 
furnish an engraving of this interesting relic. 

It is stated in a newspaper of the year 1772, that on the 12th June 
that year, John and Susan Gilder, of Terling, in Essex, made their 
public entry into Dunmow, escorted by a great concourse of people, and 
demanded the gammon of bacon, according to notice previously given, 
declaring themselves ready to take the usual oath : but to the great 
disappointment of the happy couple and their numerous attendants, the 
Priory gates were found fast nailed, and all admittance refused, in 
pursuance of the express orders of the Lord of the Manor. 

For many years the ancient custom was numbered with things 
belonging to the past. Coming to more recent times, we find it stated 
by Mr. John Timbs, that "It is reported in the neighbourhood that when 


our excellent Queen had been married a year and a day, the then Lord 
of the Manor privately offered the Flitch of Bacon to her Majesty, who 
declined the compliment ; but be it true or not, the same generosity was 
not extended to the less elevated claimants." 

The next claim was made in the year 1851, particulars respecting it 
we gather from an account by Mr. Pavey ; he tells us " Mr. and Mrs. 
Hurrell, owners and occupiers of a farm at Felsted, Essex, adjoining 
Little Dunmow, made claim to the Lord of the Manor of Dunmow 
Priory for the prize, but the application was not granted, the custom 
having been so long dormant. 

When the refusal of the Lord of the Manor to comply with the 
ancient Custom became known to the inhabitants of Dunmow and the 
neighbourhood, an intimation was given to Mr. and Mrs. Hurrell that if 
they drove over to Easton Park, near Dunmow, on a day appointed for a 
Public Fete (the 10th July), they would receive there as a prize a Gam- 
mon of Bacon on taking the customary oath, and proving their title to 
the same. This notification being given to Mr. and Mrs. Hurrell, har- 
mony was at once restored to the good folks of Dunmow, some of whom 
were afraid the Custom would be extinguished. A capital Brass Band 
was engaged, who mustered opposite the Town Hall, and when the happy 
couple arrived at the Market Cross, at Dunmow, they were received with 
joyful strains, as well as the acclamations of a large assemblage. 

At three o'clock the neighbours And friends crowded to the Market 
Cross, at Dunmow, to accompany Mr- and Mrs. Hurrell to the Park, 
proving that the joyous couple possessed the hearty sympathy of all who 
knew them. The Procession set out; the musicians preceded the chaise 
containing the happy couple, playing " See the Conquering Hero Comes." 
Several banners and flags were borne along, and the Gammon of Bacon 
was carried in front, suspended from a pole adorned with ribbons. 

The final destination of the Procession was the Rural Fete, in 
Easton Park, where the loving pair at length arrived, and were received 
with loud exclamations of welcome by the assembled crowd, including 
some of the aristocracy, gentry and yeomanry of the county, and were 

Ey THOMAS SHAKESHAFT, and Axs, h't* Wife, on June 2Qt7i. 1751. 


heartily congratulated with many a humourous compliment by all the 
married couples of whatever rank. About 3,000 persons were present. 
The Oath was duly administered to them by Mr. Pavey, and the loving 
pair received the Bacon amidst the tremendous cheering of the multitude, 
and they afterwards drove out of the Purk Gates headed by the Band. 

The evening closed with merry dances in the Park, and in the farm 
houses and cottages in the neighbourhood. The interesting ceremony 
on this occasion was productive of as much happiness and merriment as 
any of its predecessors, giving pleasure to both rich and poor, gentle and 


Shortly after the publication of the entertaining novel, entitled the 
" Flitch of Bacon," by W. Harrison A iasworth, several of the inhabi- 
tants of Duninow met, and, having formed a committee, agreed that the 
ancient Custom ought to be revived, and a resolution to that effect was 
passed. Particulars of the meeting having been communicated to Mr. 
Ainswortb, he replied as follows: 

I ani happy to find I have been in some measure instrumental in reviving 
the good Custom of Dunmow. It will give uie pleasure to co-operate with 
the Committee, and I beg to say I will gladly present a Flitch of Bacon to 
any couple who may claim it next summer, and who can justify their tile to 
tlic prize. I shall also be happy to contribute five guineas towards the ex- 
penses of the entertainment on the occasion, which I feel certain will be well 
carried out. 

After the receipt of the foregoing letter, the Committee again met, 
and it was agreed that the surplus of the receipts arising from the inten- 
ded presentation of the Flitch should be given towards embellishing the 
Dunmow Town Hall, and furnishing that building with an illuminated 
clock. The following notice appeared in the local newspapers : 

Notice is hereby given, that all claimants for the Flitch of Bacon to bu 
presented at Dunmow, in July, 1855, by Win. Harrison Ainsworth, Esq., 
must forward their applications before the 24th June next, and attend per- 


sonally at the Town Hall, Dtmmow, to prove their title to the prize in open 
court.* Such claimants and their witnesses will be examined before a jury of 
maidens and bachelors, and will be required to take the Oath according to old 
Custom. The successful candidates will be afterwards carried in procession 
to a fete to be held near the town. The Committee have to urge on claimants 
that the prize must not be estimated by its cost, but by the distinction it offers 
to those who may be fortunate enough to obtain it. Enviable are t..e wedded 
pair on whom the prize is conferred, since the acquisition establishes a claim 
of honour and respect. To say that a couple " deserve the Flitch " is a high 
compliment to say that " they have actually won it," is to proclaim them 
amongst the best and happiest of mankind. By order of the Committee, 


After the appearance of the above announcement, numerous claims 
were made, and two couples were selected, namely, Mr. James Barlow 
and Hannah, hh wife, of Chipping 1 Qngar (where Mr. Barlow carried on 
business as a builder), and the Chevalier and Madame de Chatelain. M. de 
Chatelain is aFreach gentleman,who was married to an English lady, both of 
whom have gained distinction by their able contributions to our literature. 
We are enabled to furnish our readers with a copy of the letter addressed 
to Mr. Ainsworth by Madame Clara de Chatelain : 

Might I trouble you to inform me in what manner the candidates for the 
Flitch of Bacon, you propose offering to any couple on condition to take the 
necessary Oath, are to put themselves sur les raiigs for obtaining this honour, 
presuming that in these days of mutual alliance no objection will arise on the 
score of one of the pair being a foreigner, especially as he is natural sed. 

You must know that as far back as 1845, we applied for the Flitch at 
Little Dnnmow, when the Lord of the Manor informed us the Custom had 
fallen into desuetude, and considered it would tend to no good to revive it ! 
Subsequently, we wrote three years ago to the rector, to inquire whether there 
was any truth in a newspaper account of a Flitch purporting to have been 
given at Little Dunmow, but he himself had only seen it in print, not in 
reality. At the same time, he very considerately hinted that I did not know 
all the disagreeables we should have to go through on such an occasion 
instancing kneeling on sharp stones, &c., to say nothing of considerable fees, 
rather a formidable prospect for poor authors. Would you, therefore, be at 
the trouble, while informing me how to apply for the Flitch, to state whether 
all the old ceremonies are to be preserved, or are they to be moderni-ed to 
suit the more fastidious taste of the 19th century 1 At the same time, I must 
say we are not a couple to take alarm at trifles, and having steered clear of 
the shoals and quicksands of quarrel nearly twelve years of menace (which 
people seem to think so difficult an achievement), it would not be a little that 
would prevent our becoming candidates for the coming glory of the Flitch. 
With the Chevalier's best compliments, I remain, Sir, your obedient servant. 

London, 3rd January. 1855. CLARA DE CHATELAIX. 


July 19th, 1855, was the day appointed for reviving the ancient 
Custom. A chair of state, jury-boxes, seats for the claimants, -witnesses, 
and counsel, had been prepared in the handsome little Town Hall, and 
profusely decorated with garlands of roses acd other tasteful 
ornaments. The hall was well filled with spectators of both sexes, out 
of whom six maidens and six bachelors volunteered to act as jurors. At 
two o'clock Mr. William Harrison Ainsworth, as the donor of the Flitches, 
took the chair to preside over the court ; the two sets of claimants, with 
their two witnesses each, were ushered into the places appropriated; and 
the counsel (consisting of Mr. Robert Bell, for the claimants, and Mr. 
Dudley Costello who opposed them) took their seats. The prseco, or crier 
(Mr. Charles Pavey), with mock ceremony, opened the court, and Mr. 
Ainsworth, from the chair, delivered an appropriate address, in which he 
traced very lucidly all that is known of the history of this Custom ; 
dwelt on the advantage of keeping up old Customs like this, which 
furnished innocent and exhilarating amusement to the people and tended 
to protect rather than endanger morality, and upon the injudicious but 
fruitless opposition which a party had made to it in the present instance. 
Amidst hearty cheers JVJr. Ainsworth concluded his interesting address. 

The jury having been charged, the fair members raising a 
laugh by pouring forth, in reply to the question whether they would well 
and truly try, &c., a rapid fusillade of "I wills'" probably thinkirg 
they were at the marriage altar and the claimants being summoned to 
draw near, the ordeal of the day proceeded. 

Mr. Eobert Bell said he had now to open the case on the part of the 
claimants. They would have gathered from the address they had just 
heard, that it was the best and kindliest feelirgs this old Custom had 
been revived, and that it was carried out in sincerity and good faith. 
Like all such revivals, it was liable to derision and ridicule, and unfortu- 
nately the Pnglish were a sensitive people on that point ; and this had 
no doubt deterred many from supporting Customs of this kind. But our 
ancestors were wiser in this respect than we were. They also were open 
to ridicule, but they were not so sensitive to its effects. Row in allusion 

to the establishment of this old Custom, he might observe that contem- 
poraneously with it there existed in France, with men of gallantry and 
women of wit, an institution similar to this in the Courts of Love, of 
which they had all heard. They were tribunals for the adjudication of 
questions before marriage, similar to this after marriage ; but he trusted 
it did not follow that love might not exist as purely and intensely in one 
state as in the other. (Cheers.) The Courts of Love were instituted in 
the twelfth century, and they exercised considerable influence on society; 
they existed and flourished in the time of the Troubadours for two 
hundred years, and when the Troubadours declined, the Courts of Love 
fell into disuse. These courts were presided over by the most distin- 
guished persons, sometimes by eminent women, amongst whom would be 
found Queen Eleonore, the Viscountess Ermengarde of Narbonne, and 
the famous Countess of Champagne: sometimes by princes'] and 
nobles, including in the illustrious roll the names of Richard Coeur de 
Lion, Alphonsus of Arragou, and the Dauphin of Auvergue. The main 
object of the institution was to regulate the intercourse of lovers, which, 
perhaps, it would be said, did not require regulation, as lovers were best 
left to themselves : but if any young lady had a slight or wrong to com- 
plain of, she here found prompt redress : if a gentleman had to 
complain of coldness or broken promises he preferred his complaint : the 
matter was investigated, and a verdict was pronounced that was held of 
as much authority as that of any judicial tribunal in the kingdom. To 
show the nature of these courts he would mention some of the cases 
brought before them. One was a case in which the lady bound her lover 
never to speak publicly in her praise : but ou one occasion, hearing her 
assailed in company, he defended her, and pronounced an enthusiastic 
eulogiurn upon her. The lady brought him before the Court of Love, 
but it was held that the condition was illegal, and, therefore, not binding, 
the first and paramount duty of a gentleman in these circumstances being 
to defend the character of her to whom he was engaged : and the court 
condemned the lady to love him again more warmly than she did before. 
(Laughter.) Another was the case of a secretary who was employed to 

carry messages between two lovers; he fell in love with the lady, and 
supplanted the gentleman he represented. The decision of the court was 
that the secretary was worthy of the lady, and the lady of the secretary, 
and that neither of them were fit to be admitted into society again. 
(Laughter.) But to return to this Custom at Dunmow. Objections had 
been taken to it, as there were to all amusements, for there were some 
people who were always ready to 

" Compound for Bins they are inclined to, 
By damning those they have no mind to." 

( Laughter.) This ceremony was objected to because it would bring a 
large body of people together, and because there was likely to be a 
decree of hilarity amongst them which it was considered they ought not 
to enjoy : but let them look back to the manner in which these things 
were treated in the time of the Commonwealth, and see the effect of it 
in the re-r.ctiou that followed the Restoration. As to crowds coming 
together, he trusted to the good sense of the people not to make it the 
means of excess; and the people, he thought, might bo safely left to 
themselves. (Cheers. > It had also been said that this was not a legiti- 
mate revival, because Little Uunmow, where the ceremony in olden times 
took place. \vas two miles from that spot. Now, there were Customs in 
which locality was an indispensable matter, but there were others in 
which it was not. For instance, if they undertook to visit a certain 
shrine they must make a pilgrimage to that particular spot. But this 
Custom was not a custom of locality the place was an accident, not an 
essential. They had heard that it existed in Staffordshire, in Germany, 
and in France. Its essential element was its address to the human 
affections, and he was sure that they were not confined to a locality, and 
could be celebrated in Great as well as in Little Dunrnow. (Cheers.) Where- 
ever there were true hearts and happy marriages, wherever people had 
love and trust, and could estimate the influence of woman on societv 
wherever these things were found, there they were in the right place, and 
above all they were particularly in the right place in Dunmow. (Cheers.) 
He now proceeded to the object of the day, and to draw attention to the 

claims of Mr. Barlow, and he thought it would be difficult to find in the 
class of society to which he belonged a case of a more interesting nature. 
He occupied a position to which he had risen by his own industry and 
perseverance. He began a humble situation, and had nothing to 
rely upon but his own unaided exertions ; but his energy was great and 
he had conquered fortune. (Cheers.) He was now in circumstances 
creditable to himself and satisfactory for his friends to contemplate. A 
more admirable example of successful effort, and of a strict discharge of 
domestic and professional responsibilities could hardly be adduced than 
that which he should present to them when he called Mr. Barlow forward 
as the first witness in his own case. (Applause.) 

Mr. Dudley Costello said his learned friend had performed to day 
what we knew must be to him an extremely pleasant duty that of pre 
senting to this court no fewer than four claimants for participation in the 
time-honoured Custom of Dunmow. His duty, he regretted to say. was 
not of so agreeable a nature as that of his learned friend, but he should 
be happy, indeed, if in its performance he failed to invalidate the flatter- 
ing statements his friend had made concerning the domestic happiness of 
his interesting clients. But while he gave utterance to this feeling, he 
was equally under the necessity of declaring that he could not suffer his 
assertions to go forth without examining their validity. The ladies and 
gentlemen of the jury might believe him that the purpose for which they 
were assembled here to-day was no trivial matter, no mere idle pastime 
of the hour, no slight or frivolous occasion, as some persons had not been 
backward to assert, but one that bore in the most direct and earnest way 
though the manner of it might be homely upon that which was the 
first object of our domestic care, the realisation of the joys and comforts 
of married life. To test the sincerity of those vows which declared at 
the altar that constant affection should ever prevail, and love, honour, 
and obedience be in turn faithfully rendered, the Custom at Dunmow 
the history of which his lordship had so clearly and eloquently described 
was originally instituted. That it had been a most successful institu- 
tion the records of upwards of six hundred years sufficiently proclaimed. 

He could not, as his lordship had observed, point out, at this distance of 
time, the earliest who did honour to the observance ; neither could he 
indicate all the fortunate candidates, but that it was always a familiar 
institution they would know from the fact of its re-appearance at 
numerous intervals in the history of the county, and from this pertinent 
circumstance also, that the establishment of a claim to the Flitch was a 
proverbial expression for attaining the highest reach of domestic felicity. 
The purpose of the Custom was honest and true ; and all those who in 
earnestness of heart had demanded and obtained the much coveted 
reward had themselves been living evidences of honesty and truth. They 
who came forward to claim the Flitch had a high object in view, the act 
itself being a public tribute to virtue ; and the maintenance of the 
observance was virtue's recognition. It was, then, as the guardian of a 
Custom, whose tendencies were so ennobling, whose design was in every 
way so praiseworthy, that he made his appearance in this court. Be 
entertained little doubt that his learned friend had, in both the instances 
which he intended to bring forward, what was termed a strong case, and 
his desire was to make each of them stronger by subjecting them to the 
ordeal of close inquiry. The field that was gained without a contest was 
one upon which no laurels grew worth wearing ; that wreath alone was 
prized which it had cost them a struggle to obtain.. (Cheers.) 

Mr. James Barlow was then called, and, in answer to questions, 
said : I live at Chipping Ongar, and have done so for twenty-three 
years ; I was born in the parish of Shelly, and began life as a ploughboy 
there ; I then went out for four years as factotum to a lady. 

Mr. Bell : That was exceedingly good preparation for the position in 
which you are now placed. (Laughter.) 

Mr. Barlow : I saved a little money and then apprenticed myself, 
and for nine years worked as journeyman, and then took the business of 
my brother-in-law, and I am tolerably satisfied with my position. 

Mr. Bell : What was the mode you adopted what was the secret of 
your success ? 

Mr. Barlow : I laid it down as a rul* to do justice to everyone who 

employed me ; I have suffered much from ill-health, but t have always 
found where there was a will there was a way, and when I could not 
give orders myself I wrote them : I have had losses from the villainy of 
a friend, but I did nothing to him ; he is now in America, but from my 
own former good feeling I would not betray him. 

Mr. Bell : Now turn to a delicate question. How long did you know 
Mrs. Barlow before you married her ? Four years ; our courtship was 
carried on by letters, as we were a hundred miles apart, but seeing her 
good qualities, I selected her from several others. 

You have heard that it was asserted by Sir Kenelm Digby that there 
is a sort of sympathetic powder that will make a person a hundred miles 
off love you. Did you use any of that love powder in your correspon- 
dence ? (Laughter.) Have you ever had a quarrel with Mrs. Barlow? 
Decidedly not. 

You have differed in opinion, I suppose? Not on any material 
point so as to create ill-feeling. When I have been sitting at tea. she 
has said " You have had three cups of tea," when I thought I had two. 

What did you say then? I said very well, then, I would have no 
more. (Laughter.) 

I suppose you perfectly well understood, from your knowledge of 
her character, what she meant when she said that you had had three cups 
of tea ? She had no wish to go into argument on the matter : the thing 
was settled. (Laughter.) 

Did you ever differ from her on the subject of colours ? I think- 

You have had just differences as were sufficient to cause a little 
ruffle on the waters of life and keep them fresh : Certainly not. Do 
you mean the first year of our marriage, or the whole fifteen years r 

Ah, that is a legal point : I must leave it for the Judge to decide. 
(Laughter.) When did you think of claiming the Flitch ? I always 
had my eye on the matter. 

Now, have you ever felt a passing pang of jealously, though not 
expressed it ? Certainly not. 

What wero the feelings of your friends when you claimed the bacon ? 
Some approved and some joked us about it ; there has been a degree 
of ill-feeling-, and I suppose it wai envy. (Laughter.) I think, generally 
speaking, this movement is popular amongst what I call the aristocracy 
of the county, and the only persons who turn it into jeers are people of 
my own class. 

You never regretted your marriage ? Certainly not ; my only objec- 
tion is that the years flow by too quickly. (Laughter.) 

Cross-examined by Mr. Costello : I came early to Dunmow this 
morning, and I got up early to get ready for that purpose. 

And when you were prepared was Mrs. B quite ready ? I believe 
she was ready first. (Laughter.) 

Now, are you sure that the Flitch itself was not the chief object 
that brought you here to-day ? Man's appetite is frail ; are you not in 
reality fond of bacon ? I don't much care about it. 

Is not Mrs. B ? I dare say she would like a rasher. 

Does she prefer it fried ? You know there have been quarrels on 
this point, which are recorded in a well-known song. I never inquired in 
what way she preferred her bacon. (Laughter.) 

Are you in the habit of carrying an umbrella? I am. 

Was that umbrella, when you were going out in a hurry, ever mis- 
laid ? It may have been. 

And what did you do then ? I hunted for it. (Laughter.) 

Without losing your temper ? Just so. (Laughter.) 

Is Mrs. B in the habit of doing up her back hair of a night? 

Mr. Bell objected to this question. Back hair was a mystery of the 
toilet, and entitled to protection, like a privileged communication. 

In the cold winter nights which we had a few months ago, did you, 
before Mrs. B was ready to retire did you, I ask, enter the nuptial 
couch and warm Mrs. B's place for her ? Sometimes she was in bed 
first. (Laughter.) 

The President thought this examination could cot be pursued 




Mi-s. Barlow was then called and asked, Did Mr. B fall in love with 
her, or she with him I He with me, of course. (Laughter.) 

Now, it is said that a lady has always one secret that she calls her 
own ; had you that secret that you did not tell Mr. Barlow ? I never- 
had any secret from my husband ; he is of a lively temper to me- I 
recollect him in periods of suffering, depression, and illness, and I never 
saw any variation in his temper : I never regretted my marriage with 

Cross-examined : It annoys me to see the house dirtied after it has 
been done up with care ; but on such a day as this, if Mr. B comes in 
and leaves the marks of his dirty feet on the carpet I don't mind it. 
(Laughter.) He has kept dinner waiting, but I have never said 
" Goodness gracious, James, I wish you would consider other people/' 
because I knew he was about his business and my interests. 

Now, do your chimneys ever smoke ? Sometimes. 

Your husband is a builder, and have you ever observed to Mr. Bar- 
low that you thought he might have done something to prevent that ? 

Then you have no great faith in Mr. Barlow's abilities in that way ? 
(Laughter.) Now, as to the keys. 

Mr. Bell objected to the question. The keys were always held sacred 
in the ladies' possession, and his friend had no right to make use of them 
to unlock the secrets of married life. (Laughter.) 

Mary Ann Clarke had known Mr. and Mrs. Barlow a long time, and 
never heard them say an angry word to each another. 

Do you believe that they have conspired for fifteen years to make 
one another as happy as they could, merely to claim this bacon ? I did 
not know that they had any idea of claiming it. 

Cross-examined : I have seen Mrs. B in a new bonnet, but I never 
heard it suggested that the purchase of that bonnet was the result of a 
compromise of a quarrel. 

You know that famous song in which the quarrel between a couple, 
namesake of yours, led to the loss of the Flitch ? Oh yes, sir ! iny 
husband has often sung it to me, delightful ! 


And no such dispute ever arose between Mr- and Mrs. Barlow ? 
Never to my knowledge. 

Have you ever dined with the Barlows r I can't say I have dined, 
but I have often tea'd and supper'd with them. 

"William Nicholas, governor of the On gar Union-house, thought Mr. 
and Mrs. Barlow were a very happy couple, and justly entitled to the 

Cross-examined : I have had a hand at whist with them, and they 
have been partners and Mrs. B may have trumped Mr. B's ace, and he 
has kept his temper. (Laughter.) 

Did you ever see a suspicious-looking stick hanging up behind Mr. 
B's door ? 

"Witness : A ground ash ? 

Mr. Costello : No, I should say a crab rather. Never. 

Mr. Costello then said there was nothing struck him in the matter 
to induce him to resist the claim, except those suspicious three cups of 
tea. If his friend could reconcile that Le should be content. 

Mr. Bell submitted that the very circumstances relating to the three 
cups of tea was in itself a proof of Mr. Barlow's docility of temper ; 
acd he appealed to that low sweet voice they heard in Mrs. B, which he 
was sure must have made such an impression on the Jury as to ensure a 
verdict in their favour. 

Mr. Ainsworth said he thought the case was sufficiently made out, 
but it was for the Jury to decide. 

The Jury found unanimously that the Claimants were entitled, and 
the ancouncement was received with rounds of cheers. 


Mr. Bell then opened the case for M. de Chatelain, who, he said, was 
a gentleman distinguished by his literary attainments whose pursuits 
were literary, as were also those of his lady ; and he looked on it as a 
healthy sign of public opinion that a man like him should come forward 
to claim the Flitch, for it gave interest as well as sanction to this time- 
honoured custom. 

M. de Chatelain was then examined, and he stated that he came 

from Paris and met Madame in London, and had been married to her for 
twelve years ; his pursuits were literary and so were those of Madame, 
and he found the idea a fallacy that a clever woman did not make a good 

Mr. Bell : Was this a love match ? 

M. de Chatelain : Oh, certainly. (Laughter.) In fact I fell in love 
with personal beauty and mental endowments, and I have no reason to 
lament my marriage, or to suppose that my first estimate of Madame 
was to high ; on the contrary, I find her a much more excellent person 
than I supposed her to he. We never had any difference ; we have lived 
in France, but the difference in habits did not lead to any difference of 

Cross-examined : Never had any difference of opinion on political 
subjects. He admired all Englishwomen, but loved one. 

Madame de Chatelain : I have heard M. de Chatelaines evidence, and 
I concur in what he has stated ; I have never found occasion, in any in- 
stance, to regret my marriage ; we always write in one room, and we are 
able to compose much better than if we write alone ; I do not entertain 
the notion that women ought to be returned to Parliament ; I do not 
think it necessary that ladies should be called in to assist in making laws ; 
I think woman's proper duty lies at home, and in performing her domestic 
duties she best fulfils her mission. 

Cross-examined : I was married in England, and promised to obey 
the French service, I think, has the same promise, but I am not sure ; and 
I have never found it grating or unpleasant to do anything that 1 have 
been told by M. de Chatelain. 

Miss Kearskevi a portrait painter, said in her profession she had 
studied physiognomy, and she had formed an opinion of gentleness and 
good temper from Madame's face ; had known them sixteen years, but 
had never known them quarrel, and thought they were, in fact, a pro- 
foundly happy pair. 

M. Donne" said he came from Normandy, and had known M. de 
Chatelain thirty years ; he looked better and happier since his marriage, 
which he attributed to his happiness in that state. (Laughter.) Had 

never seen an instance of unpleasantness between them ; they were 
always cheerful, ever good tempered, and ever united. 

Cross-examined : Had dined en garcon with M. de Chatelain, but 
never heard him singing " We won't go home till morning." (Laughter.) 
Mr. Costello was so satisfied with the evidence that he had nothing 
to say against the claim. 

Mr. Bell called attention to the fact that the proofs were so strong 
that his friend despaired of shaliing them, and it was therefore unneces- 
sary for him to address the Jury. 

The maidens and bachelors found for the claimants, and amidst 
plaudits and congratulations the proceedings in the Town Hall closed. 

The president, jurors, &c., left the Court, and, amidst the multitude 
without, & procession was formed in the following order : 


Stud of horses, mounted by yeoman in appropriate dresses, carrying banners, 
with the names of all the claimants since the 13th century inscribed on them 
and the arms of persons associated with the custom. 

Ladies with garlands. 

Banners borne by rustics borne uniformly. 

Maidens and bachelors of the jury in a carriage. 

The Clerk of the Court, the Crier of Court, the Counsel in a Carriage. 

Other officers of the Court. 
Gentlemen with wands, walking. 
Flitch of Bacon borne by four yeoman. 


Officers of the Court and'gentlemen with wands. 

Mr. and Mrs. Barlow, carried on a chair on men's shoulders. 

Gentlemen with wands. 

Banners borne by rustics. 

Two'minstrels'playing pipe and labor. 

Flitch of Bacon. 

Le Chevalier and Madame de Chatelain, earned on a chair on 

men's shoulders. 
Mr. William Harrison Ainsworth in a carnage. 

The procession took its course through the principal streets of the 
town, halting at the market cross, where the proclamation was made by 
sound of trumpet and drum that the flitches had been adjudged to the 
respective claimants, and would be publicly delivered to them in the 
field. The party then proceeded to a neighbouring field, where a large 
pavilion had been erected. A stage was placed inside the tent for the 
officers, counsel, and claimants. After a solemn declaration had been 
made by each claimant, who knelt down on atones prepared for them, 
Mr. Ainsworth delivered to each couple a flitch of bacon. In mock, 
official form the following record was made : 

Town Hail, Dunniow. 

The Special Court here, held on Thursday, the 19th day of July, in the 
19th year of the reign of our Sovereign Lady Victoria, by Grace of God of 
Great Britain and Ireland, Queen, Defender of the Faith, and in the year of 
our Lord one thousand eight hundred and fifty-five, before William Harrison 
Ainsworth, Esquire. 

Maidens. Bachelors. 

Be it remembered that at this Court it is found and presented that Jean 
Baptiste Francois Ernest de Chatelaiu, of Grafton Place, Euston Square, 
London, author, and Clai a, his wife, have been man ied for the space of twelve 
years last past and upwards. And it is likewise found, presented and ad judged 
by the Court that the said Jean Bap. Fr. Ernest de Chatelain, and Clara, his 
wife, by means of their quiet, peaceable, tender, and loving cohabitation for 
the space of time aforesaid, are fit and qualified persons to be admitted by 
the Court to have the Bacon of Duumow delivered to them according to 
custom. Whereupon at this Court, in full and open Court, came the said J. B. 
F. Ernest de Chatelian and Clara, his wife, in their own proper persons, and 
humbiy prayed they might be admitted to make their solemn declaration ; and 
the said \V. H. Ainsworth, with the jury, witnesses, and officers of the court, 
having heard the evidence adduced and counsel on both sides, adjudged the 
said J. B. F. Ernest de Chatelain and Clara, his wife entitled to claim the said 
Flitch of Bacon, and with the claimants proceeded with the usual solemnity to 
the place for administration of the declaration, and receiving the bacon afore- 


said, that is to say, to two great stones in Windmill Field, Dunmow, aforesaid, 
where the said J. B. F. Ernest de Chatelain and Clara, his wife, kneeling 
down on these said two stones, Charles Pavy, clerk of the court, did admini- 
ster unto them the accustomed solemn declaration [in nearly the same words 
as before given] . 

And immediately thereupon the said J. B. F. Ernest de Chatelain, and 
Clara his wife, claiming the said bacon, thecourt pronounced the sentence forthe 
same in these words, or to the effect following (to wit) : 

Since to these conditions without any fear, 

Of your own accord you do freely declare, 

A whole flitch of bacon you shall receive, 

And bear it hence with love and good leave ; 

For this is our custom, at Dunmow well known, 

Though the pleasure be ours the bacon's your own. 

In pursuance of which a flitch of bacon was publicly delivered by the 
said W. H. Harrison, Esq., to the said J. B. F. Ernest de Chatelain, and Clara, 
his wife, in Windmill Field, Dunmow aforesaid, witb usual solemnity, on the 
day and year before mentioned. 



CHAELES PAVEY, Clerk of the Court. 

A similar record was made as to the two other claimants, Mr. and 
Mrs. Barlow. 

The remainder of the day until a late hour, was passed iu various 
sports and amusements, for which ample provision had been made. 


On the 2otli of Juue, 1857, the town of Dunmow presented a lively 
appearance: banners were flying and triumphal arches were erected. 
The dav was selected for hearing the claims for the Flitch of Jeremiah 


Heard, and Sarah, his wife, of Bantley, Staffordshire, also that of John 
Nichol Hawkins, M.D., and Ann Sophia, his wife, of Victoria-place, 
Regent's Park, London. The proceedings commenced in the Town Hall, 
which had been tastefully decorated for the occasion. Mr. Barlow, a 
former recipient of the Bacan, having, as Crier of the Court, proclaimed 

Mr. William Harrison Ainsworth said : Two years ago we met 
together in this place for the purpose of reviving the good old Custom of 
Uunmow. And a very old Custom it is, as was then shown. Instituted 
in the twelfth century, it has endured for upwards of 700 years. It 
would be a thousand pities if an observance of such great antiquity, of 
a character so quaint and picturesque, and fraught with so many genial 
and poetical associations, should he allowed to become obsolete. Happily 
there is now no danger of such a result. The Lord of the Manor of 
Little Dunmow may neglect to keep up his charter, and refuse to furnish 
a Flitch of Bacon to such as shall justly demand it. The appeal will be 
answered here, and in this way. An estimable and kind-hearted lad} T , 
whose name, when it is revealed to them, must always be held in grate- 
ful respect by the inhabitants of Dunmow, has intimated to the 
authorities of the town her intention of bequeathing a sum of money 
sufficient for the annual celebration of the Custom of the Flitch. A 
noble action, and all honour to her for it. Her generosity will not be 
misapplied. Thousands will be made happier for the holiday fete this 
provision will afford them. And many a fondly-attached couple held 
up by her means as examples of conjugal felicity will have reason to 
bless the memory of this beneficent lady. Again I say all honour to her. 
Thus the ancient custom of Dunmow, which it has been my good 
fortune to assist in reviving, may be considered as perpetuated. What- 
ever may have been the origin of the old Custom, whether its design 
was serious or jocular, or, as is more likely, a mixture of both, there can 
be no doubt that, viewed in a proper light, its tendencies are beneficial. 
A prize is offered for strict matrimonial good conduct such good conduct 
to be solemnly asserted by the claimants, and confirmed by witnesses. 
Hence, examples are afforded best worthy of imitation of all married 


folk. At a season like the present, when grave and perplexing questions 
of divorce are agitating our legislators, we may indeed congratulate our- 
selves that in this quiet little town of Essex we are far more agreeably 
occupied in seeking to lighten the matrimonial links instead of to undo 
them, our grand aim being to encourage wedded love and fidelity, and 
obviate the necessity of divorce. Loving couples will always find 
welcome and honour at Dunmow. And now in the language of an 
advertisement, which must have caught the eye of most of my readers, 
let me address myself " To those about to marry," and I hope there are 
many such here. I do not mean to recommend to them incredibly cheap 
furniture, nor any other indispensable household article, but to offer them 
a word of advice. Avoid your jirst quarrel. In the careful observances 
of this precept lies the secret of conjugal happiness. Act up to it, and 
you will be entitled to the Dunmow Flitch. 

[Mr. Ainsworth sat down amidst the applause of the assembly.] 
The Crier next advanced to the jury-box, and six maidens and six 
bachelors were empanelled. 

Mr. Bowker then, in due form, proceeded to open the case, announcing 
that he had the honour of appearing as the advocate of both the parties 
coveting the Flitch, and expressing his regret that this cause had not 
fallen into the hands of one more deeply read in matrimonial history; but 
he had no doubt the parties believed their claims to be so clear that they 
felt they would be adequately advocated even by his humble ability. 
The claimants now before the Court were Thomas Jeremiah Heard and 
Sarah, his wife, and John Kichol Hawkins and Ann Sophia, his wife. 
As to the ancient custom of the Flitch he found that nine times had 
there been claims put in for it, and of these nine parties seven were 
natives of Essex, so at all events Essex was rather celebrated for matri- 
monial felicity. With regard to the first claimant, Mr. Heard, he was 
instructed to say he was now in the Staffordshire constabulary. He was 
born at Seckford-hall, but was now a peace officer, and he had shown 
that he not only kept the peace towards all Her Majesty's subjects but 
towards his wife, and that was the reason of his claim. As to Mr. and 

Mrs.. Hawkins, they did not reside here but in Regent's Park) their 


marriage was celebrated in Jersey, and as to their conjugal felicity he 
should produce evidence which he believed would be found satisfactory. 
Mr. Costello subjected the claimants and their witnesses to a rigorous 

The President thought both claims had been made out, but left the 
jury to decide which should be preferred- 

The maidens and bachelors decided in favour of the happy pair from 
Staffordshire. The proceedings in the Town-hall closed. A procession 
was next formed in the following order : 

Marshal on Horseback. 
Two Bands of Music. 

Banners with names of the successful Claimants from the year 1445 to 

the present time, Coats of Arms of the Founder of the Custom, 

and those who assisted in its revival, Arms of the principal 

Landowners in Dunmow and the vicinity. 


(Securely guarded against any attacks of the hungry). 

Garlands and devices in Flowers. 

(Bowing and Smiling to the Salutations from Pavement 

and Window). 
Jury of Maidens and Bachelors, in open Carriage, 

drawn by Four Horses. 
Carriage containing Mr. and Mrs. Hawkins (trying to be satisfied as if 

they had secured the flitch) and witnesses. 
Carriage containing the Officers of the Court.* 
The procession, after passing through the town, halted at a meadow 
at the eastern extremity thereof. A large company, including the families 
of some of the neighbouring gentry, were assembled to witness Mr. Barlow 
administer the ancient oath. The rite fulfilled, the bacon was duly pre- 
sented by Mr. Ainsworth, and a silver testimonial to Mr. and Mrs. 
Hawkins as a consolation prize. 

Cheers were given to the claimants. Mr. Barlow proposed the best 

* Chelmsford Chronicle, July 3, 1S57. 


thanks of those present to Mr. Ainsworth. This was carried with three 
rounds of cheers. Mr. Ainsworth briefly acknowledged the compliment 
expressing a hope they would often be present on future occasions. 

It is stated in the Chelmsford Chronicle as follows. " We have been 
requested to insert the following: Mr. Sparke, of Saffron Walden, 
desires it to be distinctly understood by the public that he and his wife 
were attending at Dunmow, ready to come forward in case no other 
claimants had appeared ; and, it was illness alone that made his wife wish 
to defer the honour, but ill as she felt herself, she was ready (if needed) 
to go through all the formalities, and the secretary to the committee had 
an intimation to that effect previously to the proceedings of the day com- 

Archery and various rustic sports kept alive the holiday till dusk. 
In respect to the bequest named by Mr. Ainsworth, in his opening address, 
we have to state as yet the committee has not heard anything more re- 
specting it, although a leading firm of London solicitors corresponded 
some time with Mr. C. Pavey on the subject- Mr. J. W. Savill kindly 
submitted the letters to us, but we think they are not of sufficient general 
interest for publication. 


This year Mr. J. W. Savill, although greatly opposed by several of the 
inhabitants of Dunmow carried out the festival most successfully. It 
would appear these people could not enter into the enjoyment of the 
revival of the old ceremony, nor feel satisfied at seeing others do so. We 
can only presume their own domestic bliss is not complete, and that they 
therefore think others are equally unfortunate. In answer to the adver- 
tisements for claimants a number of applications were received. The 
committee selected two, William Casson and Emma Elizabeth, his wife, 
of No. 3, Cornwall-road, Victoria Park, London, wood engraver ; and 
Josiah Leaver and Mary Jane, his wife, of Eydon Cresent, Clerkenwell, 
London, jeweller; The day fixed for the presentation was the 16th of 

August, 1869. H. Brinsley Sheridan, Esq., M.P. for Dudley (a mem- 
ber of the famous literary family), was announced to preside, but could 
not keep his appointments on account of the indisposition of his daughter. 
He wrote as follows: 

i; 17, Wcstbournn Terrace, Hyc'e Park, W. 

10th August, 1869. 

I regret exceedingly that I shall be unable to take any part in the Dunmow ceremeny, 
having to leave England for Germany (where I have a sick daughter) at the end of the 
week. It would otherwise have given me great pleasure to accept the invitation to 

witness the old English custom of giving the flitch. 


Mr. E. T. Smith, a gentleman well known in the theatrical world, occu- 
pied the chair. Mr. Garden, of the Lyceum Theatre, London, re- 
presented the claimants, while Mr. Brooks opposed them. Mr. J. W. 
Savill acted as crier of the court. It was'stated both sets of claimants 
had enjoyed four years of married life, and that Mrs. Casson had pre- 
sented her husband with four children. Mrs. Leaver had not any family. 
After an amusing investigation, the jury of maidens and bachelors de- 
clared both parties entitled to the prizes. After the ancient oath had 
been taken the flitches were presented to the claimants. Over 20,000 
persons witnessed the interesting ceremony. Mr. Smith provided various 
entertainments, which were, according io the Essex journals much appre- 
ciated bv the visitors. 


On Monday, August 10, 1874, was held the next presentation of the 
Dunmow Flitch. From numerous claimants, the committee selected 
Joseph James Clegg, and Hannah his wife, of 240, Roman-road, London. 
They were]:married at Prestwich parish church, Lancashire, on the 12th 
Feburary, 1861, and had been favoured with five children, four of whom 
were living. Mr. Clegg was employed as a clerk. The papers described 
Mr. and Mrs.'Clegg as a mosfamiable looking couple. 

Mr, William Casson a successful claimant 'of 1869, presided. Mr. 


J. W. Savill took an active part in the trial. After numerous questions 
and satisfactory replies the mixed jury declared the claimants were 
entitled to the prize. After the ancient oath had been administered by 
Mr. Savill the happy pair received the Dunmow flitch. To add to the 
pleasure of the visitors various amusements were provided. The pro- 
ceedings, which were conducted in a most satisfactory manner reflected 
great credit on the secretary, Mr. J. W. Savill. 

The members of the local lodge of Foresters, known as the " Court 
of Prince Arthur/' took part in the celebration, and the profits obtained 
by means of the entertainments were handed over to their funds. 


Under the able management of Mr. J. W. Saviil, on the 17th July, 
1876, the Dunmow Flitch was again presented. Two claims were sent 
in, the claimants being the Eev. S. M. Smith, Vicar of Harwell, Berks, 
and his wife ; and Mr. and Mrs. Boosey, parish clerk of Holy Trinity 
Church, Ventnor, Isle of Wight. We regret to state that Mr. Smith's 
engagements prevented him attending at Dunmow. He wrote Mr. Savill, 
under date of June 23, 1876, as follows : 

" Thank you very much for your letter of the 20th, but before its arrival 
I had made an engagement for the 17th of July and following days -which I 
cannot recall. I am sorry it should be so, but if you will kindly write early 
to me some future occasion I will immediately put myself in communication 
with you, and endeavour to obtain the Flitch." 

At the invitation of the Committee the writer of this little book had 
the pleasure of presiding. We did our best, in our opening address, to 
trace the history of the ancient Custom, and concluded by saying : 

" You must, I think, all feel with me that the meeting to-day is well cal- 
culated to 'promote matrimonial happiness. We ore the great rival of the 
Divorce Court. The name of Dunmow and the remembrance of the Flitch 
causes the votaries of that conrt to hide in shame their heads. By the 
Committee I am directed to state that they urge on claimants to remember 


that the prize must not be estimated by its cost, but by the distinction it offers 
to those who may be fortunate enough to obtain it. En-viable are the wedded 
pair on whom the prize is conferred, since the acquisition establishes a claim 
of honour and respect. To say that a couple " deserve the Fiitch" is a high 
compliment, to say that "they hare actually won it" is to proclaim them 
among the best and happiest of mankind." 

Mr. Boosey and bis spouse answered, in a most satisfactory manner, 
numerous questions submitted by the President and Mr. J. W. Savill, 
who appeared to save the Bacon of Dunmow, and failed in the attempt, 
certainly not for want of eloquence, nor did his remarks fall flat for want 
of humour. It was stated the happy pair had been married three years. 
James Henry Boosey was born at Standon, Herts, and Mary, his wife, at 
Furneux Pelham, in the same county. He was thirty-four years of age, 
and his good lady two years older. A number of excellent testimonials 
as to their domestic felicity were submitted, amongst them one from the 
Vicar of the parish where the couple were married and now reside. 
When the question was put to the jury of maidens and bachelors whether 
they deemed the claimants entitled to the prize, they answered in the 
affirmative. After being chaired to the two sharp stones, kneeling 
thereon, and the oath had been taken, the Flitch was duly presented to 
them. We are disposed to think a more worthy pair never obtained the 

To add to the pleasure of the day Mr- Savill provided suitable and 
attractive amusements. 


In tracing the History of the Dunmow Custom we have mentioned 
several notable persons. We think it will not be without interest to 
furnish a few biographical notes respecting some of them, also other 
matters bearing on the ceremony. 


Previous to the Conquest Little Dunmow was held by a freewoman, 
a freeman, and a sochman, and at the time of the Domesday Survey i 


belonged to Ealph Baignard or Baynard, who was also Lord of the 
Manor of Ashdon Hall, and forty other manors in Essex. The family 
had settled at Messing in the time of Henry 1IL, and was possessed of 
the Manor there called after the family name. Lady Juga was a 
descendant of this family, and sister to Ealph, hut nothing is known of 
her Ladyship beyond the fact of her founding the Priory of Little 
Dunmow in 1104. Geofrey Baynard succeeded his father Ralph. Geofrey's 
son, William, succeeded him, and inherited the large paternal estates in 
the county, but was deprived of the barony and whole estates for alleged 
treason against King Henry I., and in 1111 they were given by the King 
(Henry I.) to Robert, a young son of Richard Fitz-Gislebert, and from 
whom the noble family of Fitz-Walter descended. 


Cn the forfeiture of William, the grandson of Ralph Baynard, the 
Barony and lordships passed by gift to Robert Fitz-Gislebert, the son of 
Richard (progenitor of the ancient Earls of Clare), from whom they 
descended to the Fitz-Walters, whose posterity held the lordship of 
Little Dunmow, and Woodham-Walter, as part of the Barony of Fitz- 
Walter, through ten generations down to 1464, when, in defect of heirs 
male, it was divided among co-heiresses. Robert, surnamed Fitz-Richard, 
died in 1134, leaving, by his wife, Maud, daughter of Simon de St. Liz, 
Earl of Huntingdon, his son and heir, Walter Fitz-Robert, who married 
Maud, eldest daughter of Richard de Lucy, by whom he had Robert 
Fitz-Walter, the second of the name, and distinguished in English history 
by his zealously appearing against King John, as General of the army of 
the English Barons, under the title of " Marechal of the Army of God 
and Holy Church," when the famous Magna Charta was wrung from King 
John in 1215, on the plains of Runnymede. This Robert Fiz- Walter is 
credited with instituting the famous " Custom of Dunmow." Mr. J. W. 
Savill, of Eunuiow, to whom we are indebted for the successful revivals 
of the custom, is very strongly confirmed iu his belief that Robert Fitz- 
Walter was the actual founder of the Dunmow Flitch, and claims for it 
a national interest on the great historical association connected with the 


founder as above narrated. Robert died in 1234, and was buried 
before the high altar in the Priory Church of Little Dunmow, 
which was the ancient burial place of the Fitz-Walter family. 
The Fitz- Walters have played a prominent part in Essex in 
bygone years. John was summoned to Parliament from 1341 to 
1360. He married Alianor, daughter of Henry, Lord Percy, by whom 
he had Walter, born in 1345. He was actively engaged against the rebels 
in Essex, under Jack Straw, and served in Parliament from 1369 to 1385, 
and died in 1386. Walter, his son, also sat in Parliament from 1390 to 
1403, and Walter the son of Walter also sat in the House two years. John 
the son of Thomas Ratcliffe, Esq., who had married Annie Fitzwalter, 
was summoned to Parliament by the title of Lord Fitzwalter in 1485. 
He was convicted of high treason in 1494, in joining the conspiracv to 
place Perkin Warbeck on the throne. He was carried to Calais and 
there beheaded. He was steward of the household of Henry VII. But 
his son Robert was restored to the honour of Lord Fitzwalter in 1505. 
He was created Viscount in 1525, and Earl of Sussex in 1529. * He 
married Elizabeth, a daughter of the Duke of Buckingham, by whom he 
had issue. Henry, his eldest son and successor, was K.B. and K.G.L., 
and married first Elizabeth, daughter of Thomas Howard, Duke of Nor- 
folk. Frances, a daughter, married Sir Thomas Mildmay, of Moulsham, 
Chelmsford, who also held the Manor of Little Dunmow ; and the above 
family still exists in Essex. On Henry's decease, in 1556, he was suc- 
ceeded by his son. Thomas, Earl of Sussex and Lord-Deputy of Ireland, 
having obtained a grant of New Hall, f Boreham, a royal residence of 
Henry VIII., he made it his place of residence. He died without issue 
in 1583, and was interred in the chapel of Boreham Church. His widow 

* By letters patent of King Henry VIII. we find he " granted to Robert, Earl of Sussex, 
and his heirs, the site of the priory of Dunmow. with the manors of Dunmow Pnrv.i and 
Clnpton." Clopton," or Cl&pton Hall was formerly held by the progenitors of Messrs. 
Fiteh and Son (purveyors to H.R. H. the Prince of Wales), of Bishops-gate. London, who 
have generously respo'nded to Mr. Savill's applications, and placed the " Flitches" at his 
disposal for the recent presentations, according to the " Custom of Dunmow." This curi- 
ous coincidence is worthy of notice, and very creditable to the generosity of the descend- 
ants of their Dunmowian sires. 

t New Hall has for many years been the habitation of the Conventual Order of the 
Nuns of the Holy Sepulchre,* and is of great historic interest. Yule (.'oiler's History 

The Chair in which the Couples obtaining the 
Bacon were formerly carried. 


was foundress of Sidney-Sussex College, Cambridge. His next brother* 
Henry, succeeded him ; and he, in turn, was succeeded by his only child, 
Robert, Earl of Sussex, who died without issue. The last Lord Fitz- 
walter died about two years ago. 


The Evangelical counsels of voluntary poverty, perpetual chastity, 
and entire obedience, have, in all ages of the Catholic Church, found 
many practical adherents. So great was the desire to embrace the 
Monastic and Conventual life at one period, that, had it being indis- 
criminately encouraged, it would have had a serious effect upon the 
population of the world, hence fc't. Francis founded his third order, which 
enabled Christians living in the world the advantages of the religious 
orders. F. ssex contained no less than 47 religious houses, of which the 
Priory of Dunmow was one. It was founded in the year 1104 for canons 
of the Augustine Order, by the Lady Juga, the sister of Ralph Baynard ; 
and there was a manor belonging to it- Of Lady Juga nothing more is 
known beyond the fact that her name has been preserved by history as 
the foundress of the priory. The probability is that she entered upon a 
religious life herself, and died in peaceful seclusion. Cf the extensive 
buildings belonging to this celebrated monastic institution, but a small 
portion has been preserved. The priory church was a large and stately 
fabric. It was consecrated by Maurice, Bishop of London, and dedicated 
to the B. Virgin (St. Mary.) The small portion preserved has been 
made to constitute the little parish church of the present plebeian villagers, 
and is merely the east end of the former choir, which formed either a 
south aisle of the chancel or of the nave of the ancient church now passed 
away. There is five arches in the north wall, of which the pillars have 
been preserved. Its massive columns and capitals, covered with rich 
carvings of oak foliage on the one side, and its beautiful traceried Gothic 
windows on the other, all attest the magnificence of this stately fabric, 
when entire in its pristine glory. A tomb under an arch in the south 
wall is believed to contain the remains of Lady Juga, the foundress. It 
is of chest like form, and of great apparent antiquity. The monuments 
have been preserved on the north side of the church ; one to the memory 

of Walter Fitzwalter (the first of the name), who died 1168, and was 
buried -with one of his wives in the middle of the choir. The figure of 
Sir Walter has received considerable damage, and both legs are broken 
off at the knees. The hair of the head has a singular appearance, radiat- 
ing from a centre and curling inwards a fashion observable in monu- 
ments of the same period. Sir Walter is represented iu plate armour, 
under which a shirt of mail is seen above the collar and below the skirts. 
The mitre-like head dress of his lady, with lace, a necklace, and ear-rings, 
gives a correct idea of the fashionable ornaments of high life of that age, 
and come in for a good share of criticism by the feminine portion of 
visitors, who flaunt their dainty tresses and toss a somewhat prettier 
head-gear, and congratulate themselves that they escaped life in that age 
when fashion would have forced them to have made such "horrid guys" 
of themselves ! " Ferdy, the idea !" Ferdy catches the echo, and ex- 
claims " What, Dear ?" Others of the noble house of Fitzwalter were 
also buried here, particularly Robert, the founder of the ancient custom, 
who, as has been said, was buried before the high altar, a special place of 
honour, to the name and fame of that great and good man. Also 
Walter, Lord Fitzwalter, the last male of the family, in 1432, 
under a round arch, near the remains of his mother. An 
alabaster figure of superb workmanship, laying between two 
pillars on the north side of the church, represents the "Fair Matilda," 
the beautiful daughter of the second Walter Fitz-W alter, who, according 
to traditionary legends, was the wife of Eobiu Hood ; this, however, is 
very apocryphal, and must be received with caution in the absence of 
historical confirmation. A more probable, though more saddening, tradi- 
tion which history has recorded, is that this virtuous maiden was des- 
troyed by poison for refusing to gratify the illicit and adulterous passion 
of King John. The Priory Church contains the ancient chair in which 
the claimants of the Dunmow Flitch were chaired. Few who visit this 
ancient church neglect to take a rest in this venerated relic of antiquity. 
Some hundreds of loving hearts have sat in the old chair in amorous 
juxtaposition, and many must have been the hopes and aspirations and 
fond anticipations that they, at least) should live a life of happiness that 

would entitle them to the Flitch, even if they failed to claim it and in 
the stern realities of life many must have failed to realise the hopes of 
their youthful days when sitting in the Bacon chair. Mr. favill, the 
promoter of the modern revivals, has a fac simile of this chair which is 
kept for future presentations at Great Dunmow. History only records 
this old chair being used six times. Let us hope its new successor will 
be more in requisition. As William the Conqueror despoiled the native 
landowners of their broad acres, and lavished them upon his Norman 
lords, BO did Henry VIII. despoil and suppress the monasteries of Eng- 
land, and grant them to his favourite courtiers. Eunmow Priory escaped 
the base and servile uses that some of these religious sanctuaries were 
subjected, and has been ever preserved for religious worship, though 
under a reformed faith ; yet it met the common fate of all at the sup- 
pression. Its revenues were at that time valued at 173 2s. 4d. per 
annum, a large sum if we consider the difference in the value of money 
then and now. Originally the induction to this Church was by the Prior 
and Canons selecting one of their own body : but since the dissolution 
the benefice has been a donative or curacy in the gift of the Lord of the 
Manor of Brick-House Major Toke, who is patron of the benefice. 
The living is 72 per annum, but has been augmented with 600 of 
Queen Arm's Bounty, as also with 400 in two benefactions, and has 
been held since 1838 by the Ixev. K. E. Toke, M.A., of Barnston. This 
ancient Church was for many years as unsightly as modern bricks and 
mortar could make it. Happily all has been changed by a complete res- 
toration of the fabric, which, so far as modern improvements can go, has 
been transformed into a perfect shrine of beauty, and will well repay the 
antiquary a visit. The original "sharp-pointed stones,." upon which 
the claimants knelt to swear, by "custom of confession,'' to their 

" Fealty and love," 

are lost. A few years since, however, a " sharp-pointed stone " was dug 
up in the Churchyard with other relics. IP shape it is like the pointed cut 
glass stopper of a decanter, and would be a stern penance for the marrow 
bones of the veriest quixotic enthusiast. Xo other stone was found to 
match it. It is shown to visitors as the u Bacon Stone/' but its claim to 

that appellation is very flimsy and extremely doubtful. Mr. J. W. 
Savill, who has inspected all of the local churches for miles around 
Dunmow, has seen it, and declares it to be, to the best of his judgment, 
a finial or " knotte " * of one of the small " crocketted'' ornaments of the 
old church, and of which the cathedrals of York, Salisbury and Wells, 
afford good specimens. The Rev. J. H. Hallett is Lord of the Manor of 
Little Dunmow Priory. In 1274, Eoger de baling founded a chantry 
in the chapel of St. Mary (the priory church), in the court of the priory, 
for the reception of strangers, to pray for his soul, and the souls of some 
other persons for ever, and endowed it with lands in Eayne. 


In answer to the remarks culled from "The People's History of Essex,'' 
(see page 13 of this book) Mr. Savill states: " In law, the wife's identity 
is lost in that of herhusband's, therefore there would be no necessity to 
name her. and, from this fact alone, there is a strong inference that she 
was always present, or the flitch would have been granted exparte. 
In Dr. Bell's work, entitled " Shakespeare's Puck and his Folk-Lore," 
will be found much information as to the Dnnmow Flitch. The author 
observes, in reference to the Custom in Germany, that in a very scarce 
book, entitled " Curieuse Antiquitaten,'' published at Hamburg, in 1715, 
is a story called "Der Man und die Speckseite " "The Man and the 
Flitch of Bacon." Further, that at Vienna, beneath the Eed Tower, 
before it was taken down, hung a Flitch of Bacon, to which were 
appended these lines : 

Befind' sicli irgend hir ein Mann 
Der mit den Wahrheit sprecken kann, 
Dass ihm sine Heurath nischt gerowe, 
Und f iircht' sich nischt vor sine Frowe, ' 
Der mag desen Backen hereuuter howe ; 

which he interprets in similar doggerel : 

Is there to be found a married man, 

That in verity declai-e can, 

That his marriage him doth not rue, 

That he has no fear of his vdfe for a shrew 

He may this Bacon for himself down hew. 

* "With crochetea on corncres with knottcs of gold." 

Similar stories are told in the Austrian capital of the ludicrous failures 
of parties who occasionally applied, such as tradition has handed down 
of its brother at Dunruow, or the more ancient one, perhaps, at Whichnor 
in Staffordshire. 

"Once upon a time a man applied, and was bold enough to demand 
the flitch, and when a ladder was brought that he might cut down the 
unctuous prize, he requested that some one else would do it for him, as 
if he got a grease-spot on his Sunday clothes his wife would scold him 
terribly. Upon this the gatekeeper told him to be off ; he could have no 
claim to the bacon. He who fears is certainly not master at home, and 
has certainly rued having married." 

Dr. Bell then proceeds to connect these customs with those of more 
remote pagan antiquity, and remarks that the custom of hanging up 
flitches, perhaps as a reward for fecundity in the marriasre state, in 
imitation of the sow to which the original side belonged, is interwoven 
into the earliest popular antiquities of the Eomans, and he cites a 
passage from Spence's Pulymetis: "Alba Longa is the place where 
yEneas met the white sow and thirty pigs : and here was a very fine 
flitch of bacon kept in the chief temple, even in Augustus's time I find 
recorded in that excellent historian, Dionysius Halicarnassus.'' 

Dr. Bell also refers to the offering of a flitch of bacon by the 
heathen Prussians to Percunnos, the mightiest of their triune deities, an 
accouut of which is found in Tettau and Temme's Volkssagen, N. 11, 
p. 25 : " A mighty deity of the heathen Prussians was Percunnos. An 
eternal fire was kept burning before him, fed by oak billets. He was the 
God of thunder and fertility, and he was therefore invoked for rain and 
fair weather; and in thunderstorms the flitch of bacon (speck site) was 
offered to him. Even now* when it thunders the boor in Prussia takes 
a flitch of bacon on his shoulder, and goes with his head uncovered out 
of the house, and carries it into the fields, and exclaims ' God, fall not 
upon my fields, and I will give thee this flitch.' When the storm is 

As the relation is copied from J. L. Pollonu's Df Dm Samorjitice, and Hartknock's 
Alt und Xcu Preussen, the laiter being published in 1529, it is difficult to know whether 
to fix this " now " at that time, or at the date of the publication of Volkssagen, 1837. 

passed, he takes the bacon home and consumes it with his household as 
a sacrifice." " Percunnos," continues Dr. Bell, '' being the God of 
fertility, the analogy is still kept up ; and although the occasion differs, 
yet, when the ceremony is concluded at Dunmow, the respective couples, 
like the Prussian boor, will convey the Flitches to the homes rejoicing." 
We have extracted Dr. Bell's notes from our friend Dr. Charnock's 
excellent work on " The Ancient Manorial Customs of Essex." 


It will not be without interest to trace the history of a Staffordshire 
custom similar to that of Dunmow. The Manor of Whichnor with that of 
b'irescote was granted by William I. to one of his Norman followers of the 
name of De Somerville, by the tenure of a knight's fee and three-fourths, 
and, like other military services, the rendering of aids and reliefs to the 
superior lord of the fee, which superior was the possessor of the Honour of 
Tutbury. Sir Philip de Somerville, a descendant of the original pos- 
sessor, was a great friend and favourite of his superior lord, John of 
Gaunt, and his companionable qualities made him a frequent and wel- 
come visitor to Tutbury Castle. The Duke of Lancaster, who was very 
remarkable for his singular and in many cases jocular institutions, wish- 
ing to free his companion from the liability of being called upon for his 
aid at times inconvenient to himself, established the following commuta- 
tion of the moiety of his claims ; that is, in all probability, for the Manor 
of Whichnor : That he, Sir Philip de Somerville should find, maintain^ 
and sustain one bacon flyke hanging in his hall at Whichnor, ready 
arrayed at all times of the year, except in Lent, to be given to every man 
or woman married, after the day and a year of their marriage be passed, 
and to be given to every man of religion, archbishop, prior, and 
to every priest after the year and day of their profession finished} 
or of their dignity received, in form following : " Whensoever that 
anv such before named will come to enquire for the bacon in their 


own person, or by any other for them, they shall come to the bailiff, or to 
the porter of the lordship of Whichnor, and shall say to them in the 
manner as ensueth : ' Bailiff, or Porter, I do you to know that I come for 
myself (or, if he be come for another, showing for whom he demands) ' to 
demand one bacon flyke hanging in the hall of the Lord of Whichnor, after 
the form thereunto belonging.' Application being thus made, the bailiff 
or porter shall appoint a time for the applicant to come again, bringing 
with him two of his neighbours. " In the meantime, the said bailiff shall 
take with him twain of the freeholders of the lordship of Whichnor, and 
they then shall go to the Manor of Rudlow, belonging to Kobert 
Knyghtley, and then shall summon the aforesaid Knyghtley or his bailiff 
commanding him to be ready at Whichnor, the day appointed, at prime 
of day with his carnage, that is to say, a horse and a saddle, a sack and 
a pryke (basket), for to convey and carry the said bacon, and come a 
journey out of the county of Stafford at his cost. And thus the said 
bailiff shall, with the said freeholders, summon all the tenants of the 
said manor to be ready at the day appointed, at Whichnor, for to do and 
perform the services which they owe to the baron. And at the day 
assigned all such as owe services to the baron shall be ready at the gate 
of the Manor of Whichnor, from the rising of the sun to noon, attending 
and awaiting for the coming of him that fetcheth the bacon. And when 
he is come there shall be delivered to him and his fellows chaplets ; and all 
those who shall be there to do their services due to the baron. And they shall 
lead the said demandant with trumpets and tabour and other manner of 
minstrelsy to the hall door, where he shall find the Lord of Whichnor or 
his steward ready to deliver the bacon in this manner : He shall inquire 
of him who demandeth the bacon if he has brought twain of his neigh- 
bours with him, and he must answer, They be here ready. And then the 
steward shall cause these two neighbours to swear, if the said demandant 
be a wedded man, and if, since his marriage, one year and one day be 
passed, and if he be a freeman or villain. And if his neighbours make 
oath that he hath for him all these three points rehearsed, then shall the 
bacon be taken down, and brought to the hall door, and there be laid 
upon half a quarter of wheat, and upon one other of rye, And he that 


demandeth the bacon shall kneel upon his knee and shall hold his 
right hand upon a book, which book shall be laid above the bacon and 
the corn, and shall make oath in this manner : "Hear ye, Sir Philip de 
Somerville, Lord of "Whichmore, ruayntener and gyver of this baconne, 
that J, A, sithe I wedded B, my wyfe, and sythe I hadd hyrin inykepyng 
and at my wylle by a yere and a day after our marryage, I w'od not 
have chaunged for none other, farer ne fowler, rycher ne ponrer, ne for 
none other descended of greater lyneage, slepyng ne wakyng, at noo 
tyme. And yf the said B were sole, and I sole, I wolde take hyr to be 
my wyfe before all the wymen in the worlde, of what condicions soever 
they be, goode or evylle, so help me God and his sayntis. and thys fleshe 
and all fleshes." And his neighbours shall make oath that they trust 
verily he hath said truly. And if it be found by his neighbours before- 
named that he be a freeman, there shall be delivered to him half a 
quarter of wheat and a cheese ; and if he be a villain he shall have half a 
quarter of rye without cheese, and then shall Kuyghtley, the Lord of 
Rudlow, be called for to carry all these things before rehearsed : and the 
said corn shall be laid on horse, and the bacon above it, and he to whom 
the bacon appertaineth shall ascend upon his horse, and shall take the 
cheese before him, if he have a horse, and if he have none the Lord of 
Whichnor shall cause him to have one, and a saddle, until such time as 
he has passed his lordship ; and so shall they depart the Manor of Which- 
nor, with the corn and the bacon before him that hath won it, with 
trumpets, tabrets, and other manner of minstrelsy ; and all the free tenants 
of Whichnor shall conduct him past the lordship of Whichnor, and 
then shall all shall return except him to whom appertaineth to make the 
carriage and journey out of the county of Stafford, at the cost of his Lord 
of Whichnor. And if the said Robert Knyghtley do not cause the bacon 
and corn to be conveyed as is rehearsed, the Lord of Whichnor shall cause 
it to be carried, and shall distrain the said Robert Knyghtley for his de- 
fault for one hundred shillings in his Manor of Eudlow, and shall keep 
the distress so taken irrepleviable." Sir Oswald Mosley (from whose 
" History of Tutbury " part of the foregoing account has that abstracted) 
observes : <; The merry Sir Philip continued to treat his bacon with due 

respect, for we find him granting to Hugh, son of Walter de Newbold, 
and Agnes, his wife, by deed, in the 16th of Edward L, several small 
pieces of 1,-ind in Dunstall, upon condition that they should render to 
him and his heirs annually, eight hens at Christmas, and one chaplet or 
nosegay of white and red roses to decorate the bacon at Whichnor every 
year, on the feast of St. John the Baptist, they were also under an 
obligation to dress the said bacon with flowers prepared for them ten times 
a year, viz., to begin on Easter Eve, and continue the same monthly until 
the feast of St. Michael, and upon the vigil of All Saints and Christmas 
Eve they were to decorate the same with ivy. The Manor of Wnichnor 
no longer remains in the family of the Somervilles. It has had various 
possessors, and the hall in which the flitch originally hung has been long 
destroyed. Leland says that Whichnor was the site of a very ancient 
mansion which was then in ruins, and that the spot on which it stood 
was subject to inundations from the Trent. Traces of the mansion are 
still visible in the meadosvs at a small distance south-west of the church. 
The moat is square, encompassing an acre of ground." A new building, 
however, has been erected, and bears the nama of the Lodge, in the hall 
of which a piece of wood in the form of a flitch of bacon hangs near the 
chimney as a remembrance of the obsolete tenure. 




A Fond Couple male a Voiv before the Good Prior of the Convent of our 
Lady of Dunmoic, that they have tnred each other iced and truly for a Twclve- 
monih and a Day ; and crave his Blessing. 

" What seek you here, my children dear? 

Why kneel ye down thus lowly 
Uj>on the stones, beneath the porch 

Of this our Convent holy? 
The Prior old the pair bespoke 

In faltering speech and slowly. 


Their modest garb would seem proclaim 

The pair of low degree, 
But though in cloth of frieze arrayed, 

A stately youth was he : 
While she, wlio knelt down by his side, 

Was beautiful to see. 


" A Twelvemonth and a Day have fled 

Since first we were united ; 
And from that hour," the young man said, 

" No change our hopes has blighted. 
Fond faith with fonder faith we've paid, 

And love with love requited. 

" True to each other have we been ; 

No dearer object seeing. 
Than each has in the other found ; 

In everything agreeing, 
And every ook, and word and deed 

That breed dissension fleeing. 


" All this we swear, and take in proof 

Our Lady of Dnnmow ! 
For She, who sits with saints above, 

Well knows that it is so. 
Attest our Vow, thou reverend man, 

And bless us, ere we go !" 


The Prior old stretcli'd forth his hands 
" Heaven prosper ye !" quoth he ; 

" O'er such as ye, rght gladly we 
Say ' Benrdicitc !' 

On this, the kneeling pair uprose 
Uprose full joyfully. 


The Good Prior merrily bcstoircth a Boon vpon the Loving Couple, and 
getteth a noble Recompense. 

Just then, pass'd by the Convent cook 

And moved the young man's glee ; 
On his broad back a mighty Flitch 

Of Bacon brown bore he 
So heavy was the load. I wis, 

It scarce mote carried be. 


" Take ye that Flitch," the Prior cried, 
" Tak^ it, fond pair, and go ; 

Fidelity, like yours, d'-Sfrves 
The boon I now bestow. 

Go, feast your friends, and fiink upon 
The Convent of Dunmow." 


" Good Prior," then the youth replied, 

" Thy gift to us is dear, 
Not for its worth, hut that it shows 

Thou deein'st our love sincere. 
And in return broad lands I give 

Broad lands thy Convent near ; 
Which shall to thee and thine produce 

A Thousand ilarks a year ! 


" But this condition I annex, 
Or else the Grant's forsaken ; 

That whensoe'er a pair shall come, 
And take the Oath we've taken, 

They shall from thee and thine receive 
A goodly Flitch of Bacon. 

" And thus from out a simple chance 

A usage good shall grow ; 
And our example of true love 

Be held up evermo : 
While all who win the prize shall bless 

The Custom of Dunmow," 


" Who art thon, son," the Prior cried, 

His tones with wonder falter 
" Thou should'st not jest with reverend men, 

Xor with their feelings palter." 
" I jest not, Prior, for know in me 

Sir Reginald Fitzwalter. 


"I now throw off my humble garb, 

As I what I am, confest ; 
The wealthiest I of wealthy men, 
Since with this treasure l>h-st." 
And as he spoke, Fitzwalter clasp'd 
His lady to his breast. 


" In peasant guise mj love I won, 
Nor knew she whom she wedded ; 

In peasant cot our truth we tried, 
And no disunion dreaded. 

Twelve months' assurance proves our faith, 
On firmest hase is steadied." 


Joy reigned within those Convent walls 

When the glad news was known ; 
Joy reigned within Fitzwalter's halls 

When tUere his bride was shown ; 
No lady in the land such sweet 

Simplicity could own. 
A natmal grace had she, that all 

Art's graces far outshone : 
Beauty and worth for want of birth 

Abundantly atone. 


Hence the Custom, 

What reed of more ? That Loving Pair 

Lived long and truly so ; 
Nor ever disunited were ; 

For one death laid them low ! 
And hence arose tha> Custom old 

The Custom of Dunmow. 


O Love ! thon parent of the happiest hours, 

That dawn propitious on our mortal eyes, 
Whose gentlest words are frought with richest dowers 

Ami sweetest hopes embalmed in softest sighs ! 
Arise, thou Prince of Lovliness and light, 

Spread thy resplendent wings of gorgeous sheen 
Before the morning rays that charm our sight, 

And with thy glorious gladness fill the scene ! 

Slow breaks the morn o'er Asia's hoary bills, 

Till broad and bright Sol shakes his flag of flame 
Touching and changing all, the orient fills 

With shimmering haze a golden glow of fame ! 
Then lake and mountain kindle fair and far 

O'er all a roseate hue of crimson light 
Eclipses nature, and the morning star 

Fainting with bliss pales slowly in the height ! 

The blushing morn that opes her am'rous arms 

To woe her welcome lord with sweet embrace 
In the fair freshness of her opening charms 

The dull remembiance of the night to chase 
Away, smiles gaily as her silent sway 

From peak to plain o'er all the land extends 
The opening buds expanding to her ray 

Till all in one sweet perfect picture blends ! 

Thus o'er our lives Love spreads his splendid glow, 

Till all the bleak and bare fades faint and far 
In growing distance. Thus his blossoms blow 

More warm and bright than Aurore's flashing car ! 
How sweet the mellow glow of sunny days, 

Embalmed in soul-subduing light of love, 
Where never tempest comes nor cloudlet strays 

To dim the splendour of the blue above. 

Such the felicity that blest the lot 

Of two immortal in the page of fame 
Two happy souls who may not be forgot, 

Whose lives Love's most peculiar care became ! 
He smiled in blessing on the joyous hour 

In which they met. He touched each youthful heart 
With his fond magic, gave them for a dower 

True tenderness that never shall depart. 

Taught by his art each virtue ever wears 

A heavenly garb of dear attractive grace, 
To them the haggard face of weary cares 

Seems but to frown when they do not embrace. 
One smile of Love abolishes the gloom, 

One kiss, one clasp, Love reigns and sorrow flees, 
The star of true affection gilds the tomb 

They live to Love, they only Love to please ! 

To this fond pair, the Dunmow Flitch appears 

Unclaimed, a slight upon the holy spring 
Of all their joys. To them the gift endears 

The sacred pleasures that its teachings bring. 
Thrice blest forbearance ! Of domestic bliss 

The happy fount, they best know how to prize, 
Who long renewing the sweet peaceful kiss, 

Have seen dread storms o'ershadow neigbb'ring skies. 

Safe in their tower of refuge they have viewed 

The howling storm with desolation spread 
O'er many a bloom that steadfastly withstood 

The frosts of courtship and the youth-bloom fled. 
By wisdom given, by custom consecrate, 

By genius dowered, by Love and peace endeared, 
The ancient Flitch becomes a trophy great 

Of rarest happiness, beloved, revered. 

Not this a flag from bloody fields well borne, 

Nor shield on which a conquered foeman fell, 
But the bright badge of Love tliat knows no morn. 

Nor noon, nor night, of truth and trust proved well ! 
They only win this proudest prize of Love, 

Whose true affection trials never shake 
Whose trust on purest Love time's power above 

Rests surely, loving on for Love's sweet sake ! 

Be ours the sweet forbearance thus imprest, 
Through all the ills that fret life's daily round, 

And ever faithful to the faithful breast, 

May we of Dunmow's Flitch be worthy found ! 


The late John Joseph Briggs, Esquire, some time ago sent in a claim 
for the Flitch, having, to the best of his belief, by matrimonial felicity 
complied with the conditions of the ancient oath. In the year 1874 Mr. 
and Mrs. Briggs were invited to the " Court of Hymen," holden at 
Dunmow, to substantiate their application : it is, however, to be regretted, 
owing to the indisposition of the former, they were unable to attend. On 
tbe 23rd of March, 1876, Mr. Briggs died at his residence, King's Newton, 
near Derby, deeply lamented by all who had the pleasure of knowing 
him. He was born on the 6th of March, 1819, in the village where he 
passed away. He was a landowner and farmer. From his earliest years 
he was a lover of natural history, and long ago he originated in the Field 
the column devoted to that science, and enriched the journal with most 
pleasing and) at the same time, valuable contributions. It is stated, in 


some years, he wrote as many as 2,500 letters, chiefly in reply to com- 
munications called forth by his papers on natural history which were 
inserted in various publications. 

As an historical writer Mr. Briggs rendered good service by the 
excellent " History of Melbourne," a book issued at seven shillings and 
sixpence, now second-hand finds a ready market at a pound, it is a 
remarkable tact that 800 copies of this bpok were sold in three weeks, so 
highly was it appreciated. The work is one of great merit ; it will ever 
remain a monument displaying his ability, industry, and serve as a model 
for writers of local histories. 

Various were his productions on history, and kiudred subjects, to the 
best of our publications, he contributed with his ready pen. 

As a poet Mr. Briggs ranks high. In the year 1852 appeared "The 
Trent, and other Poems." A review in the Critic states, " 'Ihe b&ok, as 
a poetical work, almost defies criticism. Artistically, it comes nearest 
Pope in balance of its sentences, and the smooth flow of the rhythnii 
The descriptions of the river Trent and the woods of Ponnington are ex- 
ceedingly truthful, but it is in his sonnets where Mr. Briggs shows his 
real strength. Ihe one on Silence/ Wordsworth rarely, if ever, 
surpassed." Other reviews are equally favourable. 1 he following is the 
sonnet on " Silence/' which cannot fail to delight the lover of the 
beautiful : 

Silence hath set her finger with deep touch 

Upon Creation's brow. Like a young wife, the Moon 

Lifts up Night s curtains, and, with countenance mild, 

Smiles on the beauteous Earth her sleeping child. 

For joy the wild flowers weep. Soft incense, such 

As steals from herbs, 'midst pleasant fields in June, 

Freights the night air. Fach light tree s waving tress 

Is edged with silver. Flocks lie motionless. 

How sweet are hours spent in such scenes as this, 

When Peace looks down from Heaven in plaintive mood, 

And Earth, in deep tranquillity of bliss, 

Becomes a suitor to fair Solitude ! 

What noble actions spring to fruited prime 

Spring from the seeds Thought sows in such a time ! 

His love of the tender sex is well expressed in the poem as follows, 
entitled " Woman." 

It is not in seasons of sunshine and wealth. 

That we see woman's virtues shine forth : 
Nor e'en when our cheeks show the foot-priuts of health, 

And joy's flowers by life's pathways have birth. 

But when sickness hath sheathed in man's bosom its dart, 

Woman's nature seems all but divine : 
She's the woodbine that round the scathed oak of his heart, 

Loves its delicate wreathes to entwine. 

How patient her watchings her wants then how few ! 

Man's loneliness eager to share : 
And how oft is her lily cheek bathed with the dew 

Of warm tears that hang silently there. 

She heeds not the length of the cold, sunless night, 

That is robbing her cheek of its bloom ; 
She heeds not the taper's pale glimmering light 

That just burns through the darkness and gloom. 

With an eye ever watchful an ear that e'er hears 

Each half-uttered, each soft-whispered word, 
Her vigil she keeps, and hope hushes the fears 

The dark fears which anxiety stirred. 

Oh, woman ! I love not thy beauty and grace 
(Though rich are these gifts thou dost wear) : 

I love thee, because thou dost closer embrace 
Him whom sorrow hath stricken, or care. 

Man may boast of fair deeds ; in prowess and might, 

In arts and in arms may he sbine : 
But he shrinks back appalled and dismayed at a sight 

\V hen a noble courage is thine. 

With thy patient endurance he never can tend 

The lone couch where the sick one recline : 
Let others choose man boasted man for their friend ; 

Let woman true woman be mine. 



Before submitting poems by Madame Clara de Chatelain, it will not 
be without interest to furnish a few biographical notes. She died June 
30, 1876, deeplj regretted by her warm-hearted husband aud many friends. 
The leading English and French journals contained notices of the life of 
this estimable lady at the time of her death. The memorials were col- 
lected, and issued in a volume for private circulation, by Le Chevalier 
de Chatelain. In the Stratford-upon-Avon Chronicle, of 21st July, 
1876, it was kindly stated respecting Madame Clara de Chatelain : 
" This gifted lady is no more. Death, indeed, has of late been remorse- 
less in taking from us bright and rare intellects. None will the 
world of letters more deplore than this accomplished authoress. 
We, who have known her worth, bear willing but sorrowing testi- 
mony to her great merits. These columns have shewn abundant 
proof in all that concerns, to use one of the titles of one of her 
sweetest works, the ' True Nobility ' of womanhood, she surpassingly 
excelled. The wife of a man alike distinguished for literary ability, 
there never was, perhaps, a union of two such opposite natures, the 
husband, a Chevalier pur sang, with his hand ever on the hilt to dispute 
the way to a foeman worthy of his steel : the wife, the very incarnation 
of gentleness. Thus no small thing was it, by unanimous consent the 
Dunmow Flitch was awarded to them, every condition of winning it 
having been absolutely fulfilled, so for thirtj' years or more the tenor of 
their lives was even and uninterrupted. Both alike industrious and 
indefatigable, it could not here well be told how numerous, how varied, 
how versatile were her works. Proud of one thing we may be, that 
nationally speaking, we can claim her for our own, she having been born 
n London ; but England with France shared the fruits and honours 
of her labours. It pleased her usually to assume a non de plume, and 
few of our readers but will recollect with pleasure, as they will now 
sadly mourn the name and fame of ' Leopold Wray.' " "We must add, on 
June 1st, 1877, appeared from the Drydeia Press, ar.d issued for private 
circulation, " Fleurs et Fruits : Souvenirs de feu Madame Clara de 
Chatelain, nee Clara de Pontigny. Dedies a ceux qui furent et sont 

re3to*3 nos amis. Edites par Le Chevalier de.Chatelain." It contains a 
number of charming original poeois in English and French, also trans- 
lations. We are pleased to see announced for publication, by Mr. Basil 
Pickering, 196, Piccadilly, VV., the chief works in English of Madame de 
Chatelain. '1 hey will include, amongst other productions, " The Statute 
Fair: a Christmas Tale,'' "'The Man of Many Daughters,'' the "Dale- 
carlian Conjuror's Day Book." These works will be welcomed by lovers 
of the beautiful in our literature. 


In childhood's days in childhood's days ! 

The sky was pure the grass was green, 
And every flower that met our g*ze, 

Through Hope's prismatic hu-s was seen. 
How lovely theu seemed every phase 

Jn which each season re-appears ! 

What spring can vie after years 
With childhood's days ! with childhood's days ? 

In chil ; hood's days in childhood's days 

Our frames are weak ^ur hope is strong ! 
We bound through life's bright flowery ways, 

\Vi h ringing laugn and merry song 
A world of cnre before us lays, 

But what heed we, who know it not ? 

Our tears are brief, and soon forgot 
In childhood's days ! in childhood's days. 

My childhood's days my childhood's days! 

'J here is maaic in the word, 
Half joy, half sadness, that will raise, 

So oft its welcome sound is heard. 
Jn riper years life's rest decays, 

No laugh does e'er so jocund ring 

Nor woodland birds so sweetly sing, 
Since childhood's days since childhood's days ! 

My childhood's days ! my childhood's days ! 

E'en while 1 trend life's downward hill, 
Their light shines forth with weakened rays, 

That sheds a halo round me still. 
And as the wearied travellers gaze 

On scenes long past looks back in vain 

I would I might recall again 
My childhood's days ! my childhood's days. 



This little poem translated by my dear Clara was written for her 
(then Miss Clara de Pontigny) by myself, Chevalier de Chatelain, on the 
19th January, 1843. The 13th April following, Miss de Pontigny 
(the dear soul) exchanged her name for that of " Madame Clara de 


I would I were the cloud above, 

Th t screens thee from the noontide ray; 
I would I were thine image, love, 
To smile on thee at dawn of day ! 

I would I were that flow'ret blue, 

'] hat waves amid thine ebon hair; 
Or the plass. when thou dost view 
Within its depths thy features fair. 

1 would when slumbers wait on thee, 

And sweet each sense in rest enfold 
Thv eruardian angel I might be, 

Who hovei s round on wings of gold. 

I would I were a dream that leaves 

^o bitter thoughts thy peace to mar 
A dream so sweetly that deceives, 

Than duller truth 'tis better far. 

I would 1 were a gentle clove, 

Glad tidings who to thee might bear; 
To fan thee with the wings of love, 

And nestle in thy flowing hair. 

I would I were the radiant spark 

'\ h< se eyes emit when day doth flee ; 
Nay, I would be thy shadow dark 

So I mi<>ht ever follow thee. 

I would I were each thing that meets 

Thine eyes where'er they rove by chance 

Pach pRssing wish each flower whose sweets, 
However humble, win thy glance. 

I would I were the Lyre, whose chord 

Thine ear with rapt'rous shrills could bless 

I would, in one sweet word, 
1 would that I were Happiness. 

This song has been set to music by Charles Cberthiir, the great 
harpist, and has been very well received by the public- 



By MES. G. M. TWEDDELL (FLOBEXCE CLEVELAND), Authoress of " Rhymes 

and Sketches to Illustrate the Cleveland Dialect," etc. 


What think yon, Mry, if we try 

To win the Dunmow Flitch ? 
We've lived together twenty years, 

And never had a hitch. 

So smoothly we have sail'd along, 

No jerks have ever come ; 
We've pull d together, as we ought, 

To make a happy home. 

Your temper always is so good, 

I never knew you vary ; 
A loving wife you've ever been 

To me, my darling Mary. 

I know I'm not so good as you, 

Although I strive to be 
As good a husband to you, dear, 

As you're a wife to me. 

And if we chance the prize to win, 
The merit is with you. 


Nay, nay, dear John, pray say not so ! 
Them words will never do. 

'Twas yon who always were so good, 

So true and kind to me ; 
To have the merit for myself, 

How selfish that would be ! 

Besides, it's not my due ; I feel 

It all belongs to you : 
You made my pathway smooth and bright, 

And ever help'd me through. 


I have no wish to quarrel, wife, 

But now, it seems to me, 
A subject has come up at last 

On which we don't agree. 

It does seem strange that yon and I 

At last should have a hitch ; 
In this one thing we can't agree, 

So we'll give up the Flitch. 

Rose Cottage, Stokesley. 



Author of " Shaki-pere, his Times and Contemporaries, " 
" The People's History of Cleveland and its Vicinage," etc., etc. 

Near where the'Chelmer gently winds along 

Through the rich meads of Essex ; country once 

Of those vile Trinobantes who, in hate 

Of one another, call'd the Romans in 

To rule them, and resign'd their liberties, 

The willing slaves of proud imperial Rome, 

Content their Mandubratius should be 

The barbarous satrap of a Cresar's throne ; 

The relics of a Priory now stand, 

As placid as the wheat that waves close by. 

These, like all ruins, have their history ; 
And, though I deem him fool who would attempt 
To stop the wheels which ever onward roll 
Of thy bright car, O Progress ! not less fool 
Is the loud-mouth'd pretender who would claim 
All wisdom for the Present Age, and thinks 
1 he Past all ignorance and tyranny. 

The Past had errors we can now avoid ; 
The Present has much wrong \ve must redress, 
Or our posterity will rank this age, 
With all its light, as semi-barbarous. 
Let us conserve whate'er of good we have 
Received from our forefathers ; holding it 
A legacy in sacred trust for those 
Who will be Englishmen when we are dust. 
Let us look harshly on ourselves alone ; 
And, whilst we shun the errors of the Past, 
Be thankful for its teachings, and thus learn 
To reform the Present ; and the Future then 
May thank us for our pains. As yet, we are 
Far, far off from perfection, though in pride 
We pipe our puny reeds in praise of all 
Hur little selves accomplish, and dare scorn 
The parents who both made our paths and taught 
Our tottering feet to walk with safety. 
Wise, then, is he who neither would stand still, 
As though cur fathers had done all for us 
That e'er should be'attempted, nor would spurn 
The wisdom of the Past ; but rather aim 
To raise his own above all former times, 

By being "brave, and wise, and good himself 
And cherishing those virtues in all else ; 
'Devoutly thankful for all former good, 
Whenever or wherever it appear 'd, 
And hopeful for the Future. 

Tn such mood 

Much may we learn, O Duumow ! from thy Ruins. 
" Sermons in stones" they are, indeed, to those 
Whose ears are open to their eloquence. 
How in a place like this all human pride, 
Like the soap-bubbles of our childish days, 
Should burst and disappear ; for pride, like them, 
Is unsubstantial : would it were as pure ! 

Gone were the Celt's from Dunuru's pleasant brow ; 
No more the Romans march'd with martial pride 
From Csesaromagus ; Fast Saxons too, 
Though there, no longer were the conquering race, 
But bow'd their necks beneath the Norman yoke, 
In rightful retribution for the wrongs 
They d wrought upon the people of the land ; 
When Lady Juga, of the Baynard line, 
Fix'd on this site to found a Priory 
After the good Augustine's rule, the monk 
Whom Gregory sent, five hundred years before, 
From Rome, where all was rich in monuments 
Of former greatness, and still bore some share 
In the world's civilization, to tench 
A purer faith to Saxons, who sold slaves, 
Yea, their own children, bred for guilty gain, 
E'en in this isle of Britain. 

Yonder tornb, 

So chestlike in appearance, that remains 
Under an arch'd recess in the south wall, 
'Tis thought is hers. For near seven centuries too 
The well-arm'd knight whose effigy remains, 
Walter Fitz- Walter, here has " slept the sleep 
That knows no waking ;" his armour of proof 
Pierced by the shaft of Death as easily 
As his own spear pierced the poor ill-clad churl. 
But most of all commend me to the tomb 
Of the Fair Maud, well-known in English song, 
Where she wi 1 live for ever, (or our bards, 
From honest Michael Dray ton, Shakspere's friend, 
All, all must be forgot!) merry " Maid Marian," 
Wife, concubine, or call her what you will, 
Of Robin Hood, England's then truest son, 

Yea, England's truest king-, whom she preferr'd 
To the un kingly thief who stole the crown, 
Murdering the rightful heir. 

Fair was her form 
As alabaster, doubt not; it is well 
The alabaster here should mark the grave 
Wherein repose her ashes ; but she lives, 
Ay, and shall live for aye, in English hearts, 
Or they shall cease to heave responsive thrills 
To our unequall'd ballads : and Sydney says, 
(Noble !Sir Philip, flower of chivalry,) 
He never heard the song of Chevy Chase, 
Even though it were " by some blind crowder " sung, 
\V ith voice as rough as e'er the style was rude, 
Without finding his heart ((), what a heart !) 
" Moved more than with a trump-t." 

l.obin Hood ! 

The ballads Fnglish songsters long have sung 
Of thee and of thy woodcraft; how ihou plagued 
The p'ai/uers of tin 7 country ; how thou robb'd 
The robbers of thy England, and bestow'd 
The plunder of the plunderers on the poor. 
These moved men's hearts for ages : .when they cease 
To move our children, may those children sleep 
As still in death as Marian's effigy 
111 a'abaster on yon ancient tomb ! 

1 would uot, if I could, recall the Past; 
Unless 'twere for a day or two, to show 
Better than tongue or pen can ever do, 
What was the real condition of our isle, 
]n palace, castle, monastery, and cot, 
In our forefathers' days. 

And yet I love 

All innocent enjoyments for their sakes ; 
And good Old Customs are to me as bonds 
To bind us in a loving brotherhood, 

Though passing through the grave. And thine, Dunrnow ! 
That gave a Flitch of Bacon to the Wife 
And Husband who could swear they ne'er had rued, 
P7en for a moment, that they plighted troth ; 
That, for a twelvemonth and a day at least, 
They never once had done an unkind thing, 
They never once had spoken unkind word, 
They ne'er had harbour'd unkind thought at .ill 
Of one another; but had lived and loved 
With that delightful harmony of soul 

All married couples always ought to do : 
Thine was a Custom, Dunraow, that I love, 
And honour to our Ainswortb. Andrews, both, 
For daring to restore it. 

Keep it up, 

In peaceful, sober jollity, for aye. 
Neither too loose, like Charles's Cavaliers, 
Nor primly prudish like those Puritans 
(The sourest of their tribe ) who seem'd to think 
Life's pilgrimage should be a purgatory. 
And look'd on earth this glorious work of God, 
Who sends us flowers to blow, and birds to sing, 
And tints each ever-changing cloud with beauty, 
Yet, seen through jaundiced eyes, was spuru'd by them 
As though it were a hell. 

Courage, my friends ! 
Our ancestors were wise to mix delights 
With needful labours ; the} 1 were not such slaves 
As some have thought them, taken as a whole. 
Their pride of caste did not far separate 
The vassal from his lord. And they did well 
To mix in merriment, as oft they fought, 
Shoulder to shoulder. And the Dunmow Flitch 
Is only low and vulgar to the herd 
Of crawling creatures who gave hands, not hearts 
Mere legal prostitution to g-iin gold, 
Or lands, position, title, not to love 
With that true love which melts two hearts to one : 
Love that can make true marriage in the sight 
Of Heaven, though it be under Sherwood's oaks, 
Without e'en Friar Tuck ; love, without which 
The solemn rite beneath cathedral domes 
Is perjury to God. 

Such are the thoughts, 

O Dunmow, that thy Flitch (once more revived, 
According to the Custom of our sires) 
Calls up within my soul. Let it be 
A yearly Custom, and pollute it not 
With drunkenness, riot, or gluttony ; 
But keep it pure as Chastity herself 
Could wish to see it ; worthy of this isle 
\V e glory in as dear old Anglo-land, 
The abode of Honour, Purity, and Love. 

Rote Cottage, Stokesley. 

Printed at the " Eastern Morniiig Xews " Office, 42, Whitefriargate, Hull. 

University of California 


405 Hilgard Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90024-1388 

Return this material to the library 

from which it was borrowed. 


A 000 037 421 5